* Safety one of main concerns for foreign companies in Iraq
* Iraq says restoring calm after protests in Schlumberger
* Lukoil to begin oil output in West Qurna-2 by early 2014
MOSCOW, Nov 19 Russia's Gazprom Neft,
the oil arm of state-controlled Gazprom, has postponed
initial production at its Badra oilfield in Iraq until 2014 due
to safety concerns and logistical problems, the company said on
Iraq, OPEC's second-biggest oil producer, expects a robust
return to growth next year as foreign companies at work in its
southern oilfields push output toward the highest level ever.
Still, safety is one of the main concerns, highlighted last
week when dozens of Shi'ite Muslim workers and tribesmen stormed
the Schlumberger Ltd camp in North Rumaila after
accusing a foreign security adviser of insulting their religion.
Gazprom Neft said in a Eurobond prospectus it had postponed
a December launch due to "the failure on the part of certain
contractors to fulfill their contractual obligations and certain
issues related to the safety and security of employees and
It also cited delays by Iraqi authorities over tender
approvals, holdups to customs clearance for import cargo and a
shortage of local contractors.
Gaining foreign business is key for Gazprom Neft to reach
its production target of 100 million tonnes per year (2 million
barrels per day) by 2020, double current levels.
It said in April that by 2017 as much as 170,000 bpd of
crude oil could be produced for seven years at Badra.
Iraqi officials have said calm is being restored and that
the situation at the BP-operated Rumaila oilfield - core
to the country's oil expansion plans - is now safe for
Schlumberger to get back to work.
Apart from Gazprom Neft, Russia's No.2 oil producer Lukoil
is preparing to launch its West Qurna-2 oilfield in
Iraq later this year or early in 2014. It declined to comment on
whether recent violence had affected its operations.