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In what was once a wasteland in southern Iraq's Maysan province, a giant oil field, along with a vibrant town, was built from scratch by PetroChina, one of the first Chinese companies to take part in Iraq's post-war reconstruction.
According to the report of the Chinese Xinhua News Agency, "The Halfaya field is a huge complex covering an area of 288 square kilometers, about three times the size of the city of Paris, containing more than 300 oil wells, three central processing facilities for crude oil, two power plants, and a water treatment plant, A civilian airport, an office and living camp, and a natural gas processing plant are under construction."
The oil field is PetroChina's largest overseas project as an operator, according to He Yanhui, acting general manager of exploration and production at the field.
"So far, after three phases of construction, we have built here a large and modern oil field, with an annual production of 20 million tons," he said, adding that "Iraqi officials praised PetroChina's important role in boosting the country's oil industry and economy."
"The Chinese energy giant, in cooperation with many international and domestic companies, won the Halfaya project tender in 2009," Fang Jiazhong, head of the Halfaya oil field in PetroChina, explained.
Over the years, the project has become an important oil production site for Iraq, a country that relies heavily on oil and gas production to get out of the shadow of war.
"PetroChina has not only created huge economic wealth for Iraq over the past 10 years, but also actively participated in local social and industrial welfare projects, building kindergartens, providing water, electricity, roads and other infrastructure and training," Fang said.
"China's largest oil and gas producer and supplier has turned the Halfaya project into a convincing display of the true value of the Belt and Road Initiative, which promotes equal, comprehensive and win-win cooperation," he said, adding that the project "layed a good foundation for the friendly cooperation in energy production between China and Iraq."
Fang pointed out that the Halfaya project "has provided many job opportunities for Iraqis and encouraged more Chinese companies to enter the Iraqi market."
Aws Haitham, a local worker in charge of the company's training department, told Xinhua that there are more than 1,600 Iraqis currently working with the company.
Muhammad Sadiq Jaafar joined PetroChina in 2012 and is now responsible for the depots in the oil field. He advanced in his position by benefiting from the company's training and incentives.
“I gained a lot of experience working in PetroChina and from its many training courses, which gave me more knowledge about safety and modern and advanced warehouse systems,” said Jafar, who now oversees 11 petroleum and drilling materials depots, and four chemical warehouses. And four yards for drill pipes.
O Yangwen, director of quality and health department of PetroChina Halfaya, said the Chinese company is building a natural gas processing plant in the Halfaya oil field, which will help make better use of the natural gas produced besides crude oil, known as associated gas, for safety and environmental protection.
Ou said the project is expected to be completed by the end of 2023 and "the associated gas extracted from the field will be converted into energy products, which will not only improve people's livelihood, but also protect the environment."
He added that PetroChina has invested more than one billion US dollars to build a gas processing plant that converts associated gas into liquefied natural gas, sulfur and other products.
He noted that the Chinese energy giant also has a effluent recycling system and a mechanism to regularly monitor the environment around the oil field.
In addition, PetroChina has set up a waste recycling center to process scrap metal and waste batteries, planted thousands of trees and excavated several artificial lakes, he said.
“I can say that from 2010 until now, we have built a small town on this barren land, including oil, gas, power, water, telecommunications and roads,” said Du Bo, deputy director of engineering and construction at PetroChina Halfaya.
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