Western oil giants are poised to enter Basra to tap the country’s vast reserves, despite the ongoing threat of violence, according to the UK Prime Minister’s business emissary to the country.
Michael Wareing, who heads the new Basra Development Commission, acknowledged that there would be concerns among Iraqis about multinationals exploiting natural resources.
Wareing, international chief executive of KPMG, was asked by Brown to help kick-start business in the Basra region in the hope that prosperity will bring stability.
In the first interview since his appointment, Wareing, 53, told The Observer yesterday that security had improved significantly in recent months and was no longer an issue for investors. ‘If you look at many other economies in the world, particularly the oil-rich economies, many of these places are quite challenging countries in which to do business,’ he said. ‘Frankly, if you can successfully operate in the Niger Delta, that is a very different benchmark from imagining that Basra needs to be like London or Paris.’
Wareing added: ‘My sense is that many of the oil companies are very eager to come in now, and actually what they’re waiting for is the hydrocarbon law to be passed and various projects to be signed off. That is what is causing them to pause, rather than the security position’.
Wareing declined to name names but Shell, BP and Exxon are on the list…