WASHINGTON, Feb. 14 (UPI) -- According to Iraqi Ambassador to Russia Abdel Karim Hashim Mustafa, Russia's Lukoil and the Iraqi government are currently negotiating the company's role in Iraq's West Qurna-2 project. Mustafa said: "The leaders of Russia and Iraq have agreed that this accord, which was suspended on the initiative of the previous Iraqi government, would be revised in accordance with the terms on which the Russian company had previously worked. The agreement was annulled in connection with the demand that Russia should withdraw from the regime of sanctions against Iraq. The other Russian companies, which had concluded contracts in Iraq, would come back to work there. The negotiations on this problem will be continued in the framework of the renewed Russo-Iraqi Commission on Commerce and Industry." Mustafa also emphasized that Iraq "is determined to pursue a more liberal policy and is laying a new legislative foundation to help the companies that are taking part in the rehabilitation of Iraq. We hope our relations with Russia will get a fresh impetus after the elections." Russian Union of Oil and Gas Producers Chairman Yuri Shafranik said: "Russia has every right to return to Iraq. Russian companies had worked very efficiently there, many contracts were concluded, and the forthcoming exhibition in Jordan will be of major importance for the resumption of our traditional relations."
Ukraine's Naftohaz Ukrayiny Deputy Head Oleksandr Kyselyov announced in a news conference on Feb. 10 that Ukraine is frustrated with the United States over how the country is implementing Ukraine's oil and gas projects in Iraq. Kyselyov said: "Regrettably, the proposals which we have developed and which could be implemented are running against a monumental silence on the part of the U.S. We certainly understand that we will export neither our specialists nor our technologies until after order is established there. But the situation has been made a bit more complicated. The U.S. has so far failed to accept our research and development, which is of vital importance, and our serious investment. We hope that the development of relations with the Americans will nevertheless make it possible, to some extent, to draw the attention of the Bush administration to some commitments to Ukraine that the U.S. must meet, even those concerning the maintenance of our [peacekeeping] contingent."
Due to extremely cold winter temperatures, Romania's Distrigaz Sud has increased its natural gas imports from Russia, according to reports from Romania's Ministry of Economy and Trade. The reports stated that the company has imported an additional 784,770 cubic yards of gas, totaling 18.8 million cubic yards of gas, in 24 days. Isolated sections surrounding Bucharest have witnessed low gas pressure. The reports also stated: "No major problems have been recorded in the other areas supplied by Distrigaz Sud and the supply system is working properly for wintertime." In areas where another company, Distrigaz Nord, provides gas, consumption increased 20 percent over the usual daily average winter consumption. The report further noted: "In the cities of Timisoara and Botosani, gas pressure fell to below the levels allowing unproblematic supply. Distrigaz Nord called up additional intervention teams to remedy the problems due to low gas pressure."
Russia's Lukoil President Vagit Alekperov announced on Feb. 10 that the company and Venezuela are currently negotiating development projects. Alekperov and Venezuela's Energy and Petroleum Minister Rafael Ramirez discussed the possibility that the two sides could sign an agreement within the next few months. Alekperov said: "Venezuela possesses unique oil and gas reserves. That is why all world oil companies have an interest in it. In this South American country, we are interested in such areas as the Orinoco River as well as several exploration areas in Golfo de Venezuela where a tender is expected to be held soon. We could raise their production rate using modern Russian technology."
Pakistan's Muzaffargarh oil pipeline, which stretches from Karachi to Mehmood Kot, witnessed an explosion near the Kot Chhutta area of Dera Ghazi Khan on Feb. 11. Damaging some four feet of the pipeline, saboteurs blew up a pipeline valve with explosives disrupting the oil supply to the Fazilpur area of Rajanpur district. Pakistan's District Police Officer Dera Ghazi Khan Salman Chaudhry said the pipeline is undergoing repairs and authorities are investigating the incident. Preliminary investigations revealed that a timed bomb was used in the explosion.
Iran and the Republic of Tatarstan announced on Feb. 11 that the two countries signed a $500 million agreement to explore and develop oil in Iran. According to Tatarstan Prime Minister Roustam Minnikhanov, the two countries formed a joint venture for the project's undertakings. Minnikhanov said: "Iran and Tatarstan Republic can cooperate with each other in the fields of exploration and production of Hydrocarbon resources."
Closing oil prices, Feb. 14, 3 p.m. London
Brent crude oil: $44.63
West Texas intermediate crude oil: $46.95