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Iraqi Envoy Talks Oil With Russia

April 24, 1999

BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) _ Iraq’s oil minister traveled to Moscow on Saturday to press Russian oil companies to honor commitments to develop Iraqi oil fields, the official Iraqi News Agency reported.

The visit by Lt. Gen. Amer Mohammed Rashid and a delegation of senior Iraqi oil officials is expected to last several days, the news agency said.

The Russian company LUKoil, together with partners Zarubezhneft and Mashinoimport, struck a deal with Iraq in March 1997 to develop reserves in Qurna in southern Iraq.

Potential output capacity from the field is estimated at 600,000 barrels a day.

The deal required the Russian firms to start some of their operations in Iraq. But the Russian consortium has been reluctant to invest in Iraq despite repeated Iraqi pleas to comply with obligations made under the contract.

Russia was the first foreign country to sign a deal to develop Iraqi oil fields in defiance of U.N. trade sanctions that ban foreign investment in the country.

The Russians are also trying to win another contract that will give them rights to the entire Qurna oil field region in southern Iraq, Oil Ministry officials said on condition of anonymity.

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