Russia's largest privately held oil company, LUKoil, plans to drill the first exploration well at the West Qurna-2 oil field in Iraq, LUKoil CEO Vagit Alekperov said on Wednesday. "We'll start drilling the first exploration well at the end of the year," Alekperov said, adding that the company's specialists were already working at the site.
On January 31, LUKoil signed a 20-year contract to develop Iraq's massive West Qurna-2 oil field. LUKoil will develop the 12.88 billion-barrel oil field in the Basra province in southern Iraq as a consortium with Norway's StatoilHydro. The consortium, in which the Russian company holds 56.25% and StatoilHydro 18.75%, won the tender for the oil field in December 2009. The Iraqi National Oil Company will also join the consortium and hold a 25% stake in the project.
LUKoil was involved in the development of the first phase of West Qurna and signed a contract with the Saddam Hussein regime to develop the second stage, but the deal was frozen in 2002. Alekperov earlier said that the international consortium led by LUKoil would invest some $30 billion in the development of the West Qurna-2 oil field.