Iraq’s Oil Ministry has defended its decision to award the 150,000 b/d Misan greenfield refinery project to Swiss firm Satarem, after Iraqi consultants raised concerns about the deal. The ministry posted a “clarification about Misan refinery” on its website on 18 December 2013. This outlines Baghdad’s position on the award, but also confirms the problems the oil ministry faces in attracting international investors.

Concerns about the deal spread after Muthana Kubba, formerly a senior academic at Baghdad University, wrote to Iraqi PM Nuri al-Maliki on 10 December 2013 to express his worries about Satarem’s lack of refining experience. He questioned whether such a company could execute a refinery development at an estimated cost of $6.5bn. Oslo-based analyst Ahmed Jiyad circulated a letter saying that “the Ministry of Oil has to come out with an official statement on this matter and a decision on the fate of the signed MOU.” Offering such a modern refinery at such a cost “should be considered seriously, carefully and with credible due diligence,” he said. (CONTINUED - 591 WORDS)