Developments in Iraq put question mark on Tuba

Vol 6, PW 21 (18 Dec 02) News in Brief

Indian oil and service companies would do well to avoid contact with Iraqi opposition figures in the event Saddam Hussein survives a US attack.

Alexander Vasilenko, President of Russian company Lukoil, tells Moscow newspapers that he has received a letter this month from the Iraqi oil ministry cancelling a PSC signed in 1997 for the giant West Qurna oilfield that holds an estimated 15bn barrels of oil. Vasilenko's crime, it seems, was to have met Iraqi opposition figures that could figure in a new Iraqi leadership if Saddam Hussein is overthrown.

ONGC Videsh is pursuing Baghdad for a stake in the giant Tuba oilfield in the south of the country in an alliance with Reliance and until now Baghdad has been happy to let India have it when sanctions are lifted.