UAE's Crescent Petroleum and its partners in the Pearl Petroleum consortium may start exporting gas from Iraq's semi-autonomous Kurdistan region in less than five years after meeting local needs, CEO Majid Jafar told S&P Global Platts.
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"The potential for gas export is there on the longer-term, it depends on the demand, of course, in Turkey and onto Europe," Jafar said in a recent interview. "Long-term could be sooner (than five years) depending on the demand and pace of development. But our priority is meeting the domestic needs first in the Kurdistan Region and the rest of Iraq."
Pearl Petroleum Co., the consortium led by UAE's Dana Gas and Crescent, is currently developing the Khor Mor field in a two-phase expansion that targets ramping up total output to about 1 Bcf/d from around 440 MMcf/d now.
The consortium in September signed a $250 million financing agreement with the US International Development Finance Corp. to help the Khor Mor expansion. The first 250 MMcf/d project will be operational in April 2023, with nearly a one-year delay that was caused by the COVID-19 restrictions in 2020. The second 250 MMcf/d may start in less than two years after the one currently under implementation, Jafar said.
"We have identified that the domestic market within the KRI (Kurdistan Region of Iraq) is in excess of 1 bcf/d," said Jafar. "There has been interest from the federal government in Iraq in purchasing gas from Khor Mor, whether that is short-term supplies or potentially longer term. But our immediate priority is meeting the needs within the KRI and then of course potentially the rest of Iraq."
The sales gas agreement for the second phase is yet to be signed, but could potentially go to the Kurdistan Regional Government, or KRG, and other industrial consumers with the region, including cement plants burning fuel oil, he added.
The KRG is also interested in a sales gas agreement for Chemchemal, another Kurdish field operated by the Pearl consortium.
"We are looking on how to start an early production scheme there and we are in talks with the KRG who would like to purchase that gas and that might be 80 MMcf/d," said Jafar. "We are looking at project options to have some early production within less than two years, maybe as quickly as year and a half, it would build-up."
Khor Mor and Chemchemal, which together are estimated to hold proven gas reserves of 15 TCF, may also have oil potential.
"There is potential for oil in both fields (Khor Mor and Chemchemal)," Jafar said. "We are still in the early stage. There is still a lot more appraisal to be done in Khor Mor and Chemchemal oil."
In April 2007, Dana Gas and Crescent Petroleum entered into an agreement with the KRG for exclusive rights to appraise, develop, produce, market and sell petroleum from the Khor Mor and Chemchemal fields in the region. The other shareholders in the Pearl consortium are OMV, MOL and RWE with a 10% stake each.
Crescent also won in 2018 three blocks in federal Iraq, one in the oil-rich region of Basra and two in the eastern province of Diyala, but the agreements have yet to be signed due to successive government change. The Islamic State controlled large swaths of Diyala, located northeast of the capital Baghdad, during the 2014-2017 war with Iraqi forces.
"We are ready to implement those projects. It is a shame because we would have been producing gas within a year in our estimate starting with 200 MMcf/d from Diyala," Jafar said. "We do not understand why the delay. We estimate Iraq has lost over $3 billion from the delay in not signing these contracts."