MOSCOW, April 17 Russian state oil company
Rosneft said on Wednesday it was interested in helping
explore for and develop oil fields in Iraq.
"Iraq has a high potential for oil production, but it may be
realized only in a stable environment in the country. We are
sure that only large-scale bilateral projects will allow
efficient development of the economy of Iraq," Rosneft CEO Igor
Sechin was quoted as saying in a statement.
Sechin and Sergei Chemezov, head of the Russian technology
firm Rostec, met Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki on Tuesday
and said they were ready to hold a technical audit of Iraq's
existing oil facilities and support exploration and development
of oil fields in the country.
Russian President Vladimir Putin, a vocal opponent of the
U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, last year called for Russia
to strengthen its presence in the OPEC oil producer state.
LUKOIL, Russia's second-largest crude producer
behind Rosneft, and Gazprom Neft, which ranks fifth,
are already present in Iraq.
LUKOIL's oil production has been falling for the past three
years due to sluggish output at its ageing Siberian fields. It
has been seeking participation in overseas projects and is
developing the giant West Qurna-2 field in Iraq.
Rosneft kept Russian oil output the highest in the
world last year, ahead of Saudi Arabia at 10.37 million barrels
per day (bpd). Russia, whose proceeds from oil and gas make up
about half of its budget revenues, aims to keep its crude
production at no less than 10 million bpd until 2020.