As IS retreats, Iraq looks to resume oil flow

As IS retreats, Iraq looks to resume oil flow
Iraq's oil minister asks Angolan energy firm Sonagol to resume operations before the end of February.
2 min read
10 January, 2017
IS militants set fire to oil fields as they withdrew from areas of Mosul [AFP]
Angolan energy firm Sonagol has been asked by Iraq to resume work in south Mosul, where oil fields had been set alight by the Islamic State group.

Oil Minister Jabbar al-Luaibi called on Angolan company Sonangol to "resume work in developing the Qayyarah and Najmah fields in Nineveh province", the oil ministry said in a statement.

The call was made in a meeting with Sonangol executive administrator Edson dos Santons. Luaibi asked for the African firm to restart operations by the end of February.

Sonangol won bids to develop the Najma and Qayarah fields in 2009, however, both fell under IS control as the group expanded into northern and western Iraq in 2014.

The fields were recaptured by Iraqi government forces, but IS militants had already set oil wells alight causing smoke to engulf southern Mosul for months.

Baghdad said that most of the wells set on fire had been brought under control, but ministry spokesman Assem Jihad told AFP that nine were still burning.

Iraqi government forces backed by an international coalition are still locked in an offensive to dislodge IS from Mosul, the militant group's last major Iraqi stronghold.

The offensive of Mosul - launched in October - managed to push the militants mostly to the west bank of the city, but not before IS fighters set fire to oil wells to cover the skies allowing for a retreat.

Iraq relies heavily on oil for the majority of its revenue with profits having taken a huge hit due to instability, mismanagement and corruption in recent years.

The country holds the world's fourth largest oil reserves, with some 143.1 billion barrels.