Iraq's Ministry of Oil signed a memorandum of cooperation with the United Nations Development Program that aims to train and develop Iraqi employees in the oil industry, the ministry announced Wednesday (December 14th).
As outlined in the two-year agreement, the UN will improve the performance of Iraqis working in the oil and gas sector and provide the ministry with the required expertise to create more job opportunities.
"The partnership with the UN offers us a great opportunity to provide our ministry staff with advanced administrative and technical skills," said Iqdam Mohammad Ridha Hashim, general director of the Ministry of Oil's training and development directorate.
"It will also help us develop new employees to meet our future needs for skilled manpower, especially because the country's oil and gas sector is experiencing rapid growth after major international oil companies began reconstructing the sector's infrastructure," he told Mawtani.
Iraq will be a major oil power capable of affecting international markets in the coming years. It has an estimated that the country has 143 billion barrels of extractable oil reserves and more than 200 billion barrels of probable reserves, according to a UN report published in November.
Following two rounds of licensing in 2009, Iraq signed investment agreements with major oil corporations to rehabilitate its oil fields and raise production levels from the current 2.6 million barrels per day to 12 million barrels per day by 2017.
Abdul Ilah al-Ameer, an oil expert and advisor to the deputy prime minister for energy affairs, said the Iraqi oil industry needs highly trained employees to accomplish integration in workforce development.
"In recent years, Iraq received assistance from friendly countries such as the United States, France, and Britain, and international organisations such as the World Bank, and organized numerous training courses and workshops with the goal of developing the skills of staff members who work in the energy sector," he told Mawtani.
Al-Ameer said Iraq has concluded similar memoranda for cooperation with the UN in the health, education and environmental sectors.
"We hope that support in the energy field will not be restricted to training only, but will go further to establishing strong co-operation in joint research efforts on various issues related to oil and gas," he said.
Faisal Abdullah, director of the media office for the deputy prime minister of energy affairs, told Mawtani, "The memorandum reaffirms the United Nations' commitment to meet Iraq's needs in terms of sustained human development and opening the country up after long years of isolation, which negatively affected all vital sectors, particularly the economic ones."
"We sorely need any international assistance that would allow us to cultivate our resources and wealth and help us climb the ladder of progress to keep pace with world development in various fields," Abdullah said.
Oday Awwad, a member of the Iraqi parliament's energy committee, praised the signing of the memorandum.
"The committee supports any agreement for partnership and cooperation which would help develop national expertise in the technical and administrative areas related to the oil industry, specifically in production, distribution, and export," he told Mawtani.