Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi said that Iraq will sign a deal worth 53 billion U.S. dollars with U.S. company Exxon Mobil and China's PetroChina to increase its oil production, Trend reported citing Xinhua.
"The government supports the (Iraqi) Ministry of Oil to sign an agreement with Exxon Mobil and PetroChina which valued 53 billion dollars, which is a mega-project," Abdul Mahdi told a press conference after the weekly cabinet meeting.
The project "is related to pumping sea water into the oil fields in Iraq as well as increasing oil production in the two oil fields of Nahr Bin Umar and Artawi to 500,000 barrels per day (bpd) from around 100,000 to 125,000 bpd now," Mahdi said.
He said the project will provide tens of thousands of jobs and that Iraq will make about 400 billion dollars over 30 years after the deal is in force, indicating that there are discussions over the additional profits.
Mahdi also denied any link between the mega-project with the U.S. exemption for Iraq to deal with Iran which is under sanctions imposed by the U.S. administration.
"This issue (mega-project) started in 2015, and it has nothing to do with the sanctions imposed on Iran. This issue has to do with the Iraqi economy and the Iraqi oil sector," he said, adding that Iraq needs to pump water into the oil wells in order to boost pressure and keep oil production steady.
Mahdi's remarks came after U.S. President Donald Trump decided not to reissue the sanctions waivers allowing major importers to continue buying Iran's oil when they expired in early May, in a bid to pile up pressure on Iran.
Mahdi said that the deal with the two oil firms (Exxon Mobil and PetroChina) is initial, as further discussions would be held to reach a final agreement.
With such huge project, Iraq is seeking to improve the deteriorated Iraqi economy and provide job opportunities, as well as improving the public services in the country.
Iraq's economy heavily relies on exports of crude oil, which account for more than 90 percent of the country's revenues.