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Rumaila oil field

Coordinates: 30°09′22″N 47°24′28″E / 30.156112°N 47.407722°E / 30.156112; 47.407722
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Rumaila oil field is located in Iraq
Rumaila oil field
Location of Rumaila
LocationBasra, Iraq
Coordinates30°09′22″N 47°24′28″E / 30.156112°N 47.407722°E / 30.156112; 47.407722
OperatorRumaila Operating Organisation
OwnerBasra Oil Company
PartnersTechnical Service Partners: Basra Energy Company Ltd (BECL) comprising BP and CNPC,
State Oil Marketing Organization (SOMO)
Field history
Current production of oil14,210,000 barrels per day (~7.081×10^8 t/a)
Year of current production of oil2022
Estimated oil in place17,000 million barrels (~2.3×10^9 t)
Producing formationsMain Pay, Mishrif, Upper Shale, Bn Umer, 4th Pay

The Rumaila oil field is a super-giant oil field[1] located in southern Iraq, approximately 50km to the south west of Basra City.[2] Discovered in 1953 by the Basrah Petroleum Company (BPC), an associate company of the Iraq Petroleum Company (IPC),[3][4][5] the field is estimated to contain 17 billion barrels, which accounts for 12% of Iraq's oil reserves, estimated at 143 billion barrels.[6][7][8] Rumaila is said to be the largest oilfield ever discovered in Iraq[9] and is one of the three largest oil fields in the world.[10]

Under Abd al-Karim Qasim, the oilfield was nationalised by the Iraqi government by Public Law No. 80 on 11 December 1961.[11] Since then, this massive oil field has remained under Iraqi control. The assets and rights of IPC were nationalized by Saddam Hussein in 1972, and those of BPC in 1975.[12] The dispute between Iraq and Kuwait over alleged slant-drilling in the field was one of reasons for Iraq's invasion of Kuwait in 1990.[13][14]

After decades of under investment, by the early 2000s, the field was suffering not only from the natural base decline of its reservoirs, but also from ageing infrastructure and equipment, compromising both production capacity, environmental protection and safety.

North Rumaila is called "the cemetery" by the locals. A local environmental scientist told the BBC that cancer in the area is so rife it is "like the flu".[15]

The Rumaila Operating Organisation (ROO) continues to reduce gas flaring from its operated facilities at Rumaila. This reduced by a further 20% during 2022 – contributing to a reduction of more than 65% over the past seven years.[16]


The field is owned by Iraq (Basra Oil Company). Following bidding rounds in the first decade of the 2000s, a Technical Service Contract was signed between BOC and BP, PetroChina and the State Oil Marketing Organization (SOMO) in 2009. This detailed the establishment of ROO as the operator of the oilfield and led to the introduction of new technologies and infrastructure, training and equipment for staff, and an extensive drilling and expansion programme.

In June 2022, Basra Energy Company Ltd (BECL), a company wholly owned by PetroChina and bp which manages the companies’ interests at the Rumaila oilfield, assumed the lead contractor role from bp, under the existing Technical Services Contract. BECL was established to enable continued and optimized investment in the field, including enhanced access to external financing. ROO remained as the operator. The Technical Services Contract was extended in 2014 and now runs until 2034.


Transformation of the field began in 2010 and since then production has risen by 35%. During 2022, the field's reported production averaged 1,421,000 barrels per day (225,900 m3/d) making up around 30% of Iraq's oil production of 4.6 million barrels per day (730,000 m3/d).[17][18] As of 2019, about 550 production wells were operating at Rumaila.[19]

Production Facilities

The field is operated by Rumaila Operating Organisation. Facilities include a headquarters, waste management centre, supply base and training academy. There are also seven operational cluster pump stations and with 14 degassing stations - seven in the North field and seven in the South field. These degassing stations provide 3-phase separation (oil, water, and natural gas). Crude oil is sent by pipeline to local refineries or ports in Basra for export. Natural gas is provided to the Basrah Gas Company, as well as being used in the recently built Rumaila Power Plant which provides electricity to various oilfield facilities. Water is disposed into disposal wells. Degassing station names:

  • North Rumaila: DS1, DS2, DS3, DS4, DS5, NIDS, SIDS
  • South Rumaila: Markazia (Rumaila), Janubia, Shamiya, Qurainat, Mishrif Shamiya, Mishrif Qurainat, Ratqa


Rumaila reportedly holds an estimated 17 billion barrels of oil; which accounts for 12% of Iraq's oil reserves, estimated at 143.1 billion barrels.[6][7][8] The oil sits approximately 2,400 m (7,900 ft) below the surface which is considered an easy target for production.[2] At current production rate of 1,421,000 barrels per day (225,900 m3/d), the reserves-to-production ratio is just under 35 years.


Firefighters from Kuwait attempting to extinguish a burning oil well at Rumaila in March 2003

Rumaila oil field was critical in the 1990 Gulf War. Iraq, after accusing Kuwait of allegedly side-drilling under Iraqi soil, launched an attack on Kuwait on 2 August 1990.[13][14] In addition, Kuwait had been producing quantities of oil, which were above treaty limits established by OPEC.[20] In fact, before the Iraqi occupation of Kuwait in 1990, Kuwait had drilled only 8 vertical wells in its part of the Rumaila field and the production was limited due to different technical problems. The issue for Kuwait was territorial more than oil. Kuwait never drilled deviated wells that crossed the Iraqi borders. After the liberation of Kuwait in 1991, the United Nation border demarcation committee went back to the historical data and shifted the Kuwaiti border toward the north which meant that Iraq was producing from Kuwaiti territory.

During the 2003 invasion of Iraq, the Iraqi Ground Forces laid an 18 km long defensive minefield across it, which contained an estimated 100,000 mines.[21] Iraqi forces also set fire to parts of the oil field as a defensive maneuver, though these fires were later extinguished by Coalition forces.[22][23][24]

Cancer risk[edit]

Gas, when burned openly, can produce pollutants that are linked to cancer. Iraqi law prohibits gas-burning less than 10 km from people's homes, but the BBC found in 2022 that gas was being burned as close as 350 meters from people's homes. A leaked report from the Iraqi Ministry of Health blamed air pollution for a 20% rise in cancer in Basra between 2015 and 2018;[15] however, the Ministry of Health also prohibited its employees from speaking about the health damage.[15] Iraqi Environment Minister Jassem al-Falahi later admitted that "pollution from oil production is the main reason for increases in local cancer rates." None of the affected locals received compensation.[25]

The Rumaila Operating Organisation has reduced gas flaring at its operated facilities by more than 65% since 2016.[26]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Beydoun, Ziad (1988). The Middle East: Regional Geology and Petroleum Resources. Beaconsfield: Scientific Press Ltd. p. 179. ISBN 090136021X.
  2. ^ a b Master Sgt. David Bennett (2010-06-12). "Delegation sees Iraq oil field up close". US Army. Retrieved 2010-06-24.
  3. ^ Iraq Petroleum Handbook. London: IPC. 1948. p. 141.
  4. ^ Vassiliou, Marius (2009). Historical Dictionary of the Petroleum Industry. Plymouth, UK: Scarecrow Press, Inc. p. 272. ISBN 9780810859937.
  5. ^ Nairn, Alsharan, A.E.M., A.S. (2003). Sedimentary Basins and Petroleum Geology of the Middle East (2nd ed.). Amsterdam: Elsevier. p. 471. ISBN 0444824650.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  6. ^ a b "Iraq – Rumaila Oil Field (HVO IRQ-10)". ukti.gov.uk. Archived from the original on 21 May 2013. Retrieved 22 August 2012.
  7. ^ a b "Iraq increases oil reserves by 24%". BBC. 4 October 2010. Retrieved 22 August 2012.
  8. ^ a b "Iraq Lifts Oil Reserves Estimate to 143 Billion Barrels, Overtakes Iran". Bloomberg. 4 October 2010. Retrieved 22 August 2012.
  9. ^ "IBBC Members Profile – BP". We Build Iraq. Retrieved 22 September 2016.
  10. ^ Christopher Helman (2010-01-21). "The World's Biggest Oil Reserves. Chances are your energy needs are going to flow from one of these 10 fields in the future". Forbes. Archived from the original on 2013-01-24. Retrieved 2010-06-24.
  11. ^ Wolfe-Hunnicut, Brandon Roy (2011). The End of the Concessionary Regime: Oil and American Power in Iraq, 1958–1972. Ph.D dissertation: Stanford University. p. 70.
  12. ^ Shwadran, Benjamin "Middle East Oil: Issues and Problems", Schenkman Publishing, 1977.
  13. ^ a b Thomas C. Hayes, Confrontation in the Gulf's ; The Oilfield Lying Below the Iraq-Kuwait Dispute, The New York Times, September 3, 1990
  14. ^ a b J. Murdico, Suzanne (2003). The Gulf War : War and Conflict in the Middle East. The Rosen Publishing Group. pp. 13, 68. ISBN 9780823945511.
  15. ^ a b c "BP in oil field where 'cancer is rife'". BBC News. 2022-09-30. Retrieved 2023-06-18.
  16. ^ "bp responds to BBC story on Rumaila oilfield". bp. 16 February 2023.
  17. ^ Ahmed Rasheed (2009-10-09). "Iraq signs deal with BP, CNPC for Rumaila field". Reuters. Retrieved 2010-06-24.
  18. ^ "Top Ten Highest Producing Oil Fields". Oil Patch Asia. Archived from the original on 2 January 2014. Retrieved 7 January 2014.
  19. ^ "Rumaila Oil Field - the biggest producing field in Iraq". Retrieved 2024-04-25.
  20. ^ Thomas C. Hayes (September 3, 1990). "CONFRONTATION IN THE GULF; The Oilfield Lying Below the Iraq-Kuwait Dispute". The New York Times.
  21. ^ Chazan, Guy (December 16, 2012). "Iraq – back in the flow". Financial Times. Retrieved 7 January 2013.
  22. ^ http://www.iadc.org/dcpi/dc-novdec03/Nov3-Boots.pdf [bare URL PDF]
  23. ^ "CNN.com - UK: Iraq torches seven oil wells - Mar. 21, 2003". edition.cnn.com.
  24. ^ "Kuwait Oil Company". May 19, 2015. Archived from the original on 2015-05-19.
  25. ^ "Iraqi minister admits gas flaring cancer link". BBC News. 2022-10-17. Retrieved 2023-06-18.
  26. ^ "bp responds to BBC story on Rumaila oilfield". bp. 16 February 2023.

External links[edit]