Foreign firms suspend expansion work at Khor Mor gas field

The completion of the project may face delays due to the suspension of operations. [Getty]

In a move prompted by safety and security considerations, a Canadian-based global engineering company and its Turkish subcontractor have decided to withdraw staff and temporarily suspend operations at the Khor Mor gas field expansion project in the Iraqi Kurdistan region. This decision comes in the wake of a recent drone attack, as revealed by exclusive information obtained by The New Arab from two credible sources.

The unfortunate incident occurred late on April 26, resulting in the loss of four Yemeni nationals and injuries to two others when a suicide drone struck the Khor Mor gas field in Sulaimaniyah province, situated in Iraq’s autonomous Kurdistan region.

The Khor Mor gas field is significant as it is being developed by the UAE’s Dana Gas company. Natural gas provides power to almost 80 percent of the Kurdistan region’s power plants. According to local electricity authorities, the disruption caused by the drone attack led to a loss of 2,500 megawatts of electricity.

This setback comes at a crucial juncture, with Dana Gas having secured US$250 million in financing from the US International Development Finance Corporation in September 2021 to expand gas production at the Khor Mor plant. The expansion project, known as KM 250, was intended to elevate gas production to 700 million standard cubic feet per day (MMscf/d) by April 2023, with anticipated completion in the latter part of 2024. However, the suspension of operations poses a challenge to meeting this timeline.

A Kurdish source, speaking on condition of anonymity, disclosed to TNA that Enerflex, overseeing the KM 250 expansion project, has withdrawn all staff and suspended operations following the drone attack. This action follows the withdrawal of nearly 3000 workers by the Turkish subcontractor, Biltek company.

Efforts to seek comments from Dana Gas and Biltek companies regarding the situation were unsuccessful at the time of this report.

However, the source indicated that both companies are monitoring the security situation closely and are eager to resume operations once conditions improve. Yet, the exact timeline for resuming operations remains uncertain.

While the expansion project itself was not directly affected by the drone attack, a nearby gas-collecting facility sustained the impact. Consequently, the completion of the project may face delays due to the suspension of operations.

Iraqi security forces have launched an investigative committee to probe the incident, pledging to hold the perpetrators accountable. However, as of now, no conclusive findings have been reported. Additionally, the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) is conducting its own investigation, a Kurdish official speaking on condition of anonymity told TNA. The KRG has accused armed factions associated with Iraq‘s Popular Mobilisation Forces (PMF) of being implicated in the attack.

As the region awaits further developments, the focus remains on ensuring the safety and security of personnel and infrastructure involved in the vital Khor Mor gas field expansion project.

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