Oil industry destroys agriculture in Basra
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Over hundreds of years, the province of Basra in southern Iraq has been famous for its fertile soil, abundant rivers and abundant agricultural production of some types of crops. Until a few decades it was the world's largest producer and exporter of high-quality dates, but now imports dates from neighboring countries, as most other agricultural products are imported to cover domestic consumption. The province has lost vast areas of its agricultural land due to successive wars and droughts, weak government support for the agricultural sector, the encroachment of residential areas into agricultural land under the impact of the housing crisis, and the growth of oil production, which is the most influential.
Oil is crushing agriculture
Large tracts of land have been canceled, agricultural activities have been uprooted and bulldozers have been bulldozed over the past few years to dig new oil wells and pipeline pipelines to export depots. More agricultural land is expected to be drilled, and plans to increase oil production necessarily lead to further drilling of wells and the cancellation of more farms and orchards.
"The agricultural sector in the province has been paralyzed almost completely by the escalation of the pace of oil projects after the implementation of licensing contracts, concluded by the Iraqi government with major oil companies to develop some fields," said Amer Salman, director of the Directorate of Agriculture in Basra.
He added that "400 farms were canceled in Zubayr district, while the procedures continue to cancel the contracts for the lease of agricultural land in various areas of the province, in preparation for the implementation of new oil projects."
Salman pointed out that "the oil sector occupies about 80 percent of the territory of Basra, and about 95 percent of the territory of the district of the city, located in the north of the province, which is oil land is not allowed to be exploited for agricultural purposes, despite their high fertility. He added that "the Council of Ministers issued in 2012 a decision to create a state of coexistence between oil and agricultural projects so as not to lead oil projects to cancel or disable agricultural projects, but the Ministry of Oil did not comply with the implementation of the resolution."
Unemployment from the fallout
Basra is characterized by a variety of agricultural activities, which are surrounded by fields and oil installations. Wheat fields are spread in their northern areas close to the marshes, while most of the palm groves are located in their southern and eastern regions, while their western regions, which extend to the desert, include thousands of tomato farms.
According to Alaa Badran, secretary of the Marshlands Rehabilitation Committee in Basra Governorate Council, "the repercussions of expanding the areas of oil projects that thousands of farmers have left the profession of agriculture, many of them are unemployed," adding that "even the reserve of natural net in Hor Al-Huweiza was not damaged. Off for its proximity to the Majnoon oil field, and there were claims from the Ministry of Oil to transfer the reserve to an alternative location. "
Badran, who was head of the branch of the Association of Agricultural Engineers, pointed out that "primitive methods used in the extraction of oil are causing severe damage to the environment and the agricultural sector, and can be dispensed with large areas of land in the case of the application of relatively modern methods, Stressing that "in many countries are drilling oil wells amid the forests and near lakes, beaches and farms without destroying them, but in Basra the situation is different."
Law wins oil
The Ministry of Oil, in its hegemony over agricultural land, is based on the hydrocarbon conservation law No. 84 of 1985, which grants it the right to confiscate agricultural land for the implementation of oil projects after compensating the owners with money. The Ministry of Agriculture cancels its lease contracts and blocks all forms of support from its owners. The Ministry of Water Resources also cuts irrigation water. The problem is that the ministry does not usually limit itself to land on which it wants to carry out projects, but also confiscates large areas of land close to the sites of its projects and works. These lands are called "oil taboos".
According to Dr. Mohsen Abdul-Hay, assistant dean of the Faculty of Agriculture at the University of Basra, "the Ministry of Oil if it abandoned the oil taboos and used the land they actually need to dig wells or construction of oil facilities only, because Basra lost vast areas of agricultural land."
He added that "oil projects are not limited to damage to reduce the areas of land available for agriculture, the extraction of oil requires pumping large quantities of water in oil wells in order to maintain the pressure Almkmnip, and the problem that some of these water taken from the quotas of water for agriculture."
Jamal al-Muhammadawi, a member of the Oil and Gas Committee in the Iraqi Council of Representatives, that "the old methods used in the extraction of oil require the exploitation of large areas of land The oil taboos are the field taboos include the oil field as a whole, and not only taboos confined to the area of the oil well, .
He explained that "this problem affected the agricultural sector, and the difficulty of addressing legislation in the House of Representatives lies in the sensitivity of the oil sector as the nerve of the Iraqi economy, the preference is always for oil at the expense of agriculture, without taking into account that oil is a rich wealth and agriculture permanent wealth.
It is noteworthy that Basra owns more than 55 percent of Iraq's oil reserves, and operates by major oil companies, including the Royal Dutch Shell Dutch Dutch, British LUKOIL Russian andExxonMobil US and British Petroleum British and ENI Italian. The province includes some of the largest oil fields in the world, most notably the fields of Majnoon, Rumaila and West Qurna, which resulted in the development, last year, a massacre of palm trees in the Huwair area. In the absence of radical solutions to the problem of overcrowding and overlap between oil projects and agricultural activities in a city that has long been known for its abundant agricultural production and diversity, over the past decades it has exceeded more than half the distance to be an oil city.