In Rudaw 

Iraq announces plan to capture gas at southern oil fields

Iraq’s oil ministry on Sunday announced a project in partnership with an American company to capture gas at two of its fields, part of a plan to end the environmentally damaging practice of flaring and boost electricity generation.

Oil Minister Ihsan Abdul-Jabbar Ismail said the project at the Nasiriyah and al-Gharraf fields is a step towards achieving the government’s goal to “capture all the gas that is being flared, to increase the national output of gas, to preserve a clean environment, in compliance with international treaties.”

The project is done in partnership with the American company Baker Hughes, which is one of the world’s largest companies providing services to oil fields. US Ambassador Matthew Tueller was at the announcement in Baghdad.

He told Rudaw that Baker Hughes is “a highly respected international company” that is now “partnering with the Ministry of Oil to capture gas in Iraq, to increase electricity generation for the Iraqi people and also to reduce the impact of emissions that are contributing to climate change.”

Related: Kurdistan Region faces challenges to end flaring

Iraq suffers from chronic electricity shortages, because of multiple factors, including poor government delivery of services, rampant corruption, terror attacks on the power grid, and Iran’s recent cuts of electricity and gas exports because of unpaid bills.

“We salute the Ministry of Oil for its accomplishment in attracting a company like Baker Hughes for this important project,” Tueller said, noting that capturing gas will reduce emissions that are contributing to climate change.

Iraq is the world’s second worst offender when it comes to flaring gas, behind Russia. According to the World Bank, in 2020 Iraq flared 17.37 billion cubic meters of gas and Russia burned off 24.88 billion.

“Iraq is one of the most climate vulnerable countries in the world. Urgent climate action is needed if we are to safeguard the environment for future generations,” read a joint statement from the UN mission in Iraq (UNAMI), Britain, France, and Italy late last year.

Iraq faces multiple climate threats, including water shortages, desertification, and rising temperatures, but Baghdad is just beginning to develop a climate strategy. Last year, the parliament voted to accede to the Paris Agreement.

Ambassador Tueller noted the US is not in Iraq just for military and security reasons. “We really see with what the United States brings to Iraq is not just security support, but support for energy production, for investment, for prosperity for the Iraqi people, so we are delighted to have this partnership,” he said.