Oil adviser to leave ministry

25 June 2004
Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) senior oil adviser Mike Stinson is preparing to relinquish his role in the Oil Ministry prior to the 30 June handover of sovereignty. Speaking to MEED on 24 June, Stinson said his oil advisory team would be transferred to a new office being set up within the US embassy.

'We will be moving to the Iraqi reconstruction management office [IRMO] within the embassy,' said Stinson. 'All CPA advisers within the IRMO will become consultants to the ministries and be available to offer their thoughts and expertise, ensure existing CPA funded projects are completed and help with an orderly transfer of sovereignty. I used to have day-to-day responsibilities within the ministry but from 30 June I won't physically control anything.'

The US-appointed senior oil adviser has had far-reaching powers within the ministry to direct policy since the official ending of hostilities last May. Stinson's departure from the ministry follows the appointment in May of Thamer Ghadban as the oil minister and official transfer in early June of control of the ministry to the Iraqi government from the CPA.

Ghadban, who was previously the chief executive of the Oil Ministry, is finalising plans to restructure the entire industry in Iraq. This could see the existing industry structure of 13 state-owned upstream, refining, engineering and marketing companies rolled into an integrated oil entity.

'The minister is very keen on reconstituting the former Iraqi National Oil Company. It is impossible to determine when this will happen but I believe it will be sooner rather than later. Separating oil policy and strategy from politics is essential if they are going to attract the foreign investment that the industry needs,' said Stinson.

Increases in oil output have fallen below expectation this year. Oil production is not expected to exceed its current level of 2.5 million barrels a day (b/d), below the 3 million-b/d target the ministry had set for the end of 2004. However, according to Stinson the release of up to $1,000 million in funding by the Finance Ministry will enable the Oil Ministry to complete essential infrastructure upgrades and procure vital equipment.

'Their most urgent requirement is in the area of top-notch reservoir management and this will have to cover everything from 3D logging to recompleting existing wells and metering to ensure that fluid is not lost in the reservoirs. Water injection is also very important, as are ensuring a reliable power supply to the wellhead and security,' Stinson said.

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