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29 Nov 2003 23:22 GMT DJ Experts See Long-Term Risks To Iraq's Oil Reservoirs -NYT Copyright © 2003, Dow Jones Newswires NEW YORK (Dow Jones)--As the Bush administration spends hundreds of millions of dollars to repair the pipes and pumps above ground that carry Iraq's oil, it hasn't addressed serious problems with Iraq's underground oil reservoirs, which U.S. and Iraqi experts say could severely limit the amount of oil those fields produce, the New York Times reported Saturday. The report, posted on the Times' Web site, said experts familiar with the Iraqi oil industry warned that years of poor management have damaged the fields, and some say that the current drive to rapidly return the fields to prewar capacity runs the risk of reducing their productivity in the long run. In northern Iraq, the large, aging Kirkuk field suffers from too much water seeping into its oil deposits, the experts say, and similar problems are evident in the sprawling oil fields in southern Iraq, the Times reported. "We are losing a lot of oil," Issam al-Chalabi, Iraq's former oil minister, was quoted as saying. He said it "is the consensus of all the petroleum engineers" involved in the Iraqi industry that maximizing oil production may be detrimental to the reservoirs, the Times reported. A 2000 U.N. report on the Kirkuk field said "the possibility of irreversible damage to the reservoir of this supergiant field is now imminent," the Times reported. U.S. officials acknowledge the underground problems, but figuring out how to address them is a quandary, the report said. The Bush administration and the Iraqis are banking on oil revenues to help pay for Iraq's reconstruction, and U.S. officials say that aggressively managing the reservoirs is crucial to keeping oil and revenue flowing. But so far, U.S. officials have steered clear of delving below ground, partly, they say, out of fear of adding to suspicion in the Arab world that the U.S. invaded Iraq to control its oil, according to the report. The above-ground versus below-ground debate also raises the question of whether the U.S.-led reconstruction effort is intended just to repair damage from the war or to improve conditions beyond what they were before the U.S. invasion, the report said. When Wayne Kelley, a Texas oil engineer, and other experts asked about attending to Iraq's oil reservoirs during a government conference for contractors in July, Army Corps of Engineers officials said their mission was restoring war-damaged facilities, not "redeveloping the oil fields," according to a transcript of the meeting, the Times reported. (END) Dow Jones Newswires _______________________________________________ Sent via the discussion list of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq. To unsubscribe, visit http://lists.casi.org.uk/mailman/listinfo/casi-discuss To contact the list manager, email firstname.lastname@example.org All postings are archived on CASI's website: http://www.casi.org.uk