Continued violence in Iraq stalls OVL work at Block 8

Vol 7, PW 17 (05 Nov 03) News in Brief

Unrest in Iraq has forced ONGC Videsh 'to go slow' on the fate of its two assets: Block 8 in the Western Desert and the discovered Tuba oilfield.

"The ground situation in Iraq is very bad," says a source. "We want to keep a low profile.

If we get impatient the Iraqis will identify us with the Americans and we could face difficulties. We do not want to be seen like vultures.

We have no links to any political group and would like to do our work peacefully." OVL is encouraged by a recent request from Iraq authorities for clarifications about the Block 8 deal and isconfident it can eventually resume work in Iraq. "We have sent them a detailed reply." OVL should have begun shooting seismic at the 10,000-sq km Block 8.

It has already archived, reprocessed and interpreted old seismic and plans to shoot 1,000-km fresh 2D and 300-sq km fresh 3D. OVL is more confident about Block 8 than Tuba because the Block 8 contract was ratified by the former Iraqi parliament while Tuba was never formally awarded.