February 6th, 2010

IOCs and the Future of Basrah

 

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I believe the governor’s views are quite right, very positive and give assurances to the IOCs who signed contracts to develop oil fields in the Basrah governorate. The message is clear to the IOCs to engage with the local community and make an effort to reach out. It’s true that, and in spite of the monopolistic and concessionary nature of the old contracts IOCs had with Iraq, Basrah people did benefit from work opportunities, housing and other initiatives such as social and sports clubs …etc. One has to admit here that the priority is employment with Basrah population exceeding two million and high unemployment rate. The city has been deprived of work opportunities for decades though there are skilled and semi-skilled people. The example cited by the governor of the University of Basrah, and I may add the several institutes of technology including the Oil Training Institute, graduate several thousand of young people every year. The private sector is gearing up to cater for the demands of the international oil companies and a number of service companies have been established, on top of the already existing ones. New hotels have been and are being built. The construction of an oil or energy base is underway. Numerous contactors who are ready to pick subcontracts for civil works, transports, catering, …, etc. The port of Khor Al-Zubair is being rehabilitated to increase its offloading capacity.

An ongoing and widespread problem in the city of Basrah in general, and in the country side in particular, is the shortage of potable water due to the rising salinity of river waters and the delay in the construction of water treatment and desalination projects. I believe IOCs could help a lot in this regard, in particular for villages in the vicinity of the oil fields where they are going to work. They can also assist in improving medical and health centers, recreation parks in historical spots such as Qurna and the Marshes and of course they can sponsor sports clubs, which Basrah is well known, SOC Football Club being in the top first division in Iraq!

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