East Asian oil firms, for so long bit part players in Middle East oil development, are finally emerging as a dominant force, largely through their involvement in driving a wide range of critical projects in Iraq’s multi-billion dollar upstream expansion.

Chinese state giant CNPC is spearheading the East Asian investment drive, through its operatorships at Ahdab and Halfaya, and partnership with BP on the 2.85mn b/d Rumaila field development project. But Malaysia’s Petronas too is significant, leading the 230,000 b/d Gharaf project and with stakes also in Halfaya and Majnoun. While Iraq is unlikely to want to reach its overly-ambitious 2017 plateau target of 7.28mn b/d, East Asian firms can realistically be looking at participation in 2.73mn b/d of crude production in federal areas of Iraq by end-2014 (see table). (CONTINUED - 1138 WORDS)