By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service
May 21, 2007 – The $1.725 billion appropriation committed to improving Iraq's oil sector has had a major impact in building or restoring the country's crude oil, natural gas and cooking fuel capacity, a senior official in Baghdad reported. Navy Capt. Richard D. Fritzley, director of the oil sector for the Army Corps of Engineers' Gulf Region Division, told reporters during a May 19 roundtable session the funds committed to oil and gas production are paying off.
The program's goal, he said, is to repair and rebuild existing oil systems and components throughout the country and to restore oil production capacity to pre-war levels.
"I am happy to report that as far as capacity or capability goes, we have achieved these goals," Fritzley said.
"We believe today (that) there is capacity to pump 3 million barrels of oil, that we can make 800 million standard cubic feet of dry gas and that we can make 3,000 metric tons of cooking fuel," he said.
Fritzley acknowledged that these production levels haven't been achieved, but that it's possible, once other obstacles get resolved.
The oil program is nearly completed, with four gas plants built, one in the north and three in the south. In addition, seven gas compression stations have been restored and 80 oil wells repaired, he said.
Other initiatives included providing independent power for some oil facilities to they can operate independent of the power grid and establishing voice and data communication links between offshore operating platforms and operating facilities ashore.
The program also has trained more than 1,500 employees to operate and maintain the oil facilities. Fritzley called this effort "a great success."
There's much more work ahead for the Iraqi Ministry of Oil, he said. This includes rebuilding and modernizing refineries, repairing and upgrading pipelines and continuing improvements to the oil wells.
Fritzley said the Army Corps of Engineers' Gulf Region District stands ready to assist the Oil Ministry and operating companies, as requested, and to help the ministry execute its own capital budget.
Meanwhile, the corps also is focused on enhancing security at certain oil facilities. The goal, Fritzley said, is "to protect them and get them back on line and get more crude oil flowing."
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