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Economy News _ Baghdad
A report by the British Guardian newspaper blamed companies operating in Iraq, especially in the south, for the worsening water scarcity and increased pollution, due to their rapid pursuit of additional profits with the rise in global oil prices after the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
According to the report, which was followed by "Al-Iqtisad News", the water scarcity has already caused the displacement of thousands of people and increased instability, as Iraq is considered the fifth largest country exposed to the climate crisis and the marshes in the oil-rich south, whose lands that feed entire communities, have become mere muddy channels.
The report revealed that companies, in order to facilitate the oil extraction process, 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.
The Guardian pointed out that satellite images show the construction of a small dam last year by the Italian company, Eni, with the aim of diverting water from the Basra Canal to its channels linked to the water treatment plant, which stopped the seasonal floods that were feeding the fishing area.
She added 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".
According to the newspaper report, without alternatives, the required water must be extracted from aquifers, which puts direct pressure on water needs related to agriculture and consumption.
Regarding the existing alternatives, the newspaper indicated 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, and in Iraq, discussions are about establishing a project dedicated to diverting sea water. It has been going on for over a decade, but nothing has been done yet. The Ministry of Oil does not have an adequate budget, and the oil companies do not want to pay the cost.
The newspaper pointed out that Iraq's production has increased since the Russian invasion of Ukraine in 2022, and Iraqi oil exports to Europe have increased by about 40%, while oil and gas companies have recorded unprecedented profits in the past year.
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