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IRAQ -- Sinopec has won a contract to develop the Mansuriyah gas project, marking a major step forward for Iraq's gas sector, while also consolidating Chinese companies' dominant position in the country's oil and gas industry (PIW Jan.15'21). Baghdad has been trying for years to kick-start development of the 4.5 Tcf nonassociated gas field, located in restive Diyala province, near the border with Iran. Sinopec will take a 49% stake in the field, which it will operate in partnership with Iraq's state-run Midlands Oil Co. It will receive a 23.88% share of profits from the gas sold. The Chinese company will finance exploration, evaluation, development and production of the gas under a 25-year contract, the Iraqi oil ministry announced on Tuesday. Mansuriyah is slated to produce 300 MMcf/d with an initial production target of 50 MMcf/d. The project could sharply reduce the country's reliance on costly gas imports from Iran, some of which are carried through Diyala by pipeline to power plants that supply the Iraqi capital. But much will depend on how quickly the field can be developed, because Iraq's domestic power demand is rising rapidly.

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