China National Petroleum Corp has further strengthened its presence in Iraq after it took over as the lead contractor of the country's West Qurna 1 oilfield from US oil giant ExxonMobil, industry experts said.
The company said on Wednesday that it has become the lead contractor for the oilfield — one of the largest such in Iraq — located about 50 kilometers northwest of Basra.
The oilfield has an estimated annual crude oil output of more than 25 million metric tons and recoverable reserves estimated at more than 20 billion barrels, CNPC said.
Holding the largest stake in a major oil project in Iraq will help China further secure energy resources and build stronger bilateral relations, said Lin Boqiang, head of the China Institute for Studies in Energy Policy at Xiamen University.
By securing control over a significant oilfield, China has ensured a stable and long-term source of energy for its rapidly growing economy, Lin said.
According to the Middle East Institute, a Washington-based think tank dedicated to the study of the Middle East, Chinese companies are well positioned to participate in Iraq's capacity expansion efforts, as they are actively engaged in various energy-related undertakings throughout the country.
The think tank said China's energy ties with Iraq extend well beyond trade in crude oil, as China's leading State-owned energy enterprises have established a strong foothold in Iraq's upstream, midstream and downstream markets, while China's engagement with Iraq has continued to grow in recent years, mostly in energy and transport infrastructure.
China's leading energy enterprises, including CNPC, China National Offshore Oil Corp and China Petroleum &Chemical Corp, have been present in Iraq for years, it said.
CNPC said it expects China and Iraq to work together to make the oilfield project an excellent example of energy cooperation between the two countries, and it would adhere to the principle of mutual benefit and win-win cooperation to ensure a smooth handover and orderly transition.
Iraq's Deputy Oil Minister for Extraction Affairs Bassim Mohammed Khudair said he has full confidence in CNPC's manpower, strategy and vision, and that he believes the project will be completed within the stipulated time.