The difficulty of operating in Iraq was a recurrent theme at the MEED Iraq Energy Projects in Dubai this week, though other foreign contractors were less strident in their criticism.

But, says former oil minister Thamir Ghadhban, the gripe is possibly an attempt to mask international oil company (IOC) shortcomings, particularly with regard to Eni, lead operator of the Zubair field, where he says not much has been done by the Italian company. Two contracts worth an estimated $1bn for degassing stations needed to achieve plateau production have been approved, and a third is under consideration, Mr Ghadhban said. (CONTINUED - 1900 WORDS)