Iraqi delegation visits Bakken operations looking for technology, flaring solutions

By The Bakken Magazine Staff | December 14, 2015

The Iraq Ministry of Oil has turned to the Bakken for answers to its own oilfield challenges. Each year, Iraq flares 1.2 billion cubic feet of associated gas produced during oil production due to the lack of infrastructure required to gather and transfer the product to centrally located stations.

Hamed Younis Saleh, Iraq’s deputy minister of gas affairs, and Hillal Ali Ismaeel Mushtaq, director of Iraq’s general studies directorate, joined members of the U.S. Department of Energy and regional delegates for a tour of the Bakken. Also in the group were Julio Friedmann, DOE principal deputy assistant secretary for fossil energy, and Josh McKearin, a DOE international affairs specialist and American capital investor based in Iraq.

The tour, first initiated by the DOE a year and half ago, helped the Iraq group study and see firsthand gas technologies and gas-powered electrical generation facilities in the region. “I proposed to them that North Dakota’s experience with capturing gas near the wellhead and generating power might help them,” Friedmann explained. “The Iraqis are serious about reducing flaring, serious about getting gas to market and they have serious needs for power generation.”

During their stay in North Dakota, the Iraqi delegation heard presentations from the University of North Dakota’s Energy & Environmental Research Center, the Department of Mineral Resources Oil and Gas division, the Trade Office, the Department of Commerce and the Department of Health. Basin Electric Power Cooperative, a power supplier in North Dakota that utilizes natural gas, also presented.

Tour stops included a gas capture research site operated by Hess Corp. in Blue Buttes, along with Basin Electric’s Pioneer Generation Station near Williston. After visiting North Dakota, the Iraqi group stopped in Washington, D.C., where they met with DOE and other federal officials. They also attended an industry roundtable that included GE, Siemens, Alstom, Exxon Mobil and Occidental Petroleum Corp.

“I know that the vice minister and his team were pleased and impressed,” Friedmann said. “It was clear that they learned a lot, that they got value out of it and, hopefully, this experience will accelerate progress in both flaring reduction and power generation in Iraq.”

The hope for Friedmann is to identify technologies available for rapid deployment in Iraq in partnership with their government.