[You must be registered and logged in to see this image.]
Shafaq News/ The British newspaper "The Guardian" held, on Saturday, the Western oil companies operating in Iraq, especially in the south, partly responsible for the worsening water scarcity and the increase in pollution, due to its rapid pursuit of additional profits with the rise in global oil prices after the Russian invasion of Ukraine. .
The British report, translated by Shafaq News agency, quoted international experts as saying that water scarcity has already caused the displacement of thousands of people and increased instability, as Iraq is the fifth most vulnerable country to the climate crisis.
The marshes turn into muddy channels
The report indicated that the marsh areas in the oil-rich south, whose lands that feed entire communities, have become mere muddy channels.
The report dealt with the experience of Mahdi Mutair (57 years old), who worked in fishing all his life, and he and his wife for many years used to wake up at dusk, and sail in the water channels in the Al-Khoura area, located a few kilometers north of Basra, indicating that although the harvest was limited, it It was enough to feed a family of seven.
But that has changed since last year, and his boat is now stuck in the mud, even at the height of the rainy season.
The report quoted Mutair as saying, pointing to the black smoke rising from the Zubair oil field in the distance, that the reason is "the water station built by the Italian company...they need water for their oil fields."
The report indicated that companies, in order to facilitate the process of extracting oil, pump large amounts of water into the field underground, and that for every barrel of oil, much of which is later exported to Europe, up to three barrels of water are pumped into the ground. Adding that in light of the increase in oil exports to Iraq, its water has decreased significantly.
water for oil
The report added that the Italian company that Mutair was referring to is the multinational Eni operating in Iraq since 2009.
The report revealed how satellite images show the construction of a small dam last year by Eni, with the aim of diverting water from the Basra Canal to its channels linked to the water treatment plant, stopping the seasonal floods that were feeding the area where Mutair used to fish.
The report indicated that another water treatment plant is used by oil companies, including "BP" and "Exxon Mobil", and its consumption represents 25% of the volume of water consumption in an area inhabited by five million people.
Participating in the project, "British Petroleum", "PetroChina" and "South Oil Company".
The report quoted a statement by Eni as saying that the company did not use fresh water because the water from the canals is salty and polluted and therefore does not compete with other uses.
However, the "Guardian" newspaper said that it saw on the ground and through satellite images, how the water from the canals that feed the Karma Ali plant and the "ENI" plant under construction in Al-Khora merges a few kilometers south of the two stations into a public water treatment plant that secures 35 % of the water used by families in Basra.
Groundwater is on the lookout
In addition, the report stated that the impending water crisis in Iraq has been well documented, as the US Energy Information Administration "EIA" indicated in 2012 that Iraq's water needs for oil extraction would increase tenfold.
She pointed out that without alternatives, the required water must be extracted from aquifers, which puts direct pressure on water needs related to agriculture and consumption.
After the report drew attention to unrest and acts of violence that had previously occurred in the Basra region and caused many deaths and injuries, the head of the "Qamar Energy" consulting company, Robert Mills, was quoted as saying that "the volume of water injection required is not huge, but it is in areas that suffer from Water stress, that can cause serious problems."
Mills added that it is imperative for the oil companies operating in Basra, which suffers mainly from difficult water problems, to "find alternatives to fresh water."
According to the report, alternatives exist, noting that Saudi Arabia, Iraq's neighbor, which also suffers from similar water problems, and has the third largest oil reserves in the world, the water for injection is obtained from the sea.
As for Iraq, the report indicated that discussions about establishing a project dedicated to diverting sea water have been going on for more than a decade, but nothing has been done so far.
According to Mills, "The Ministry of Oil does not have an adequate budget, and the oil companies do not want to pay the cost."
The report indicated that Iraq more than doubled its oil production during the decade preceding 2019, and its production has also increased since the Russian invasion of Ukraine in 2022, and Iraqi oil exports to Europe increased by about 40%, while oil and gas companies recorded unprofitable profits. preceded last year.
Despite the report's reference to the huge profits achieved by oil and gas companies, it made it clear that Iraq has not witnessed similar growth, and that the World Bank says in its 2022 report that "the development indicators in Iraq are similar to those of low-income countries."
The report quoted the head of an active environmental agency in southern Iraq, Walid Al-Hamid, as saying that "unlike other countries in which it operates, the majority of foreign oil companies in Iraq do nothing to reduce their environmental impacts," explaining that it is the least costly for them to maintain on polluting the environment.
[You must be registered and logged in to see this link.]