• Basrah

  • Saturday, July 6, 2024 at 12:52 PM
    Last Update : Wednesday, July 10, 2024 at 5:48 AM

Environmental, Health Concerns Over APG Burning in Iraq’s Basra

(AWP) - The citizens of the southern Iraq city of Basra have been suffering from emissions of burned associated petroleum gas (APG), blamed by environmental activists for the high rate of cancerous tumors and lung diseases compared to other provinces.

Falah al-Amiri, a member of the Basra Alliance for the Protection and Improvement of the Environment, said the correlation between APG burning in oilfields and the spread of certain diseases should not be denied.
“There is a correlation between the diseases currently spread in Basra, including kidney failure, respiratory ailments, cancer and leukaemia, and the oil extractions. We must never deny this thing,” he said.

“The rate of cancer and other diseases in Basra is higher than non-oil-producing governorates. This is a clear indication that needs no further studies or research. The high rate of cancerous tumors can be detected from one province to another but Basra is now witnessing many cases,” he added.

Mo’taz Hikmat Othman, an environmental activist, highlighted the importance of minimizing the amount of burned gas emitted from oil facilities, referring to the role of engineering designing in handling the problem.
“Reducing contaminants at oil facilities must basically start at the designing stage, not after releasing the gaseous contaminants Basra is suffering from,” he stressed.

The Iraqi government started the investment of APG instead of burning it, which should benefit the state and lessen the pollution of the environment in Basra.

Adnan Hadi, a professor at the oil & gas department of Basra University, said, “In Iraq, 50% of the associated gas used to burn, but today this rate is beginning to decrease, reaching 38% after the government managed to invest 62% of the incinerated gas.”

Aly Shaddad, a member of the Iraqi parliament’s oil & gas committee, regretted that Iraq lagged behind for many years to start investing associated gas, which adds many obligations and burdens on it.

“Iraq is the second exporter in the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) but today it is unfortunately lagging behind on investment of gas. This should put on Iraq as an oil and gas exporter huge commitments based on international agreements. The presence of Iraq in OPEC also adds immense obligations on it,” he pointed out.

He indicated that the al-Halfaya oilfield was finally operated and 300 million cubic feet of gas is being invested.
“This in turn has raised the ceiling of the process to invest burnt gas from 51% to 60%. The ministry of oil should be given the credit for this. Moreover, there are commitments with the Basra Gas Company (BGC) to activate 200 million cubic feet of gas during the coming stage,” noted Shaddad.

“There was also an investment venture by the French company Total over two phases, the first to invest 600 million cubic feet and another 600 million cubic feet for the second phase. This should contribute to enhancing gas investment in Iraq, whether the associated gas or gas fields recently announced as investment opportunities,” he said.

He believed that these investments will be playing a key role in reducing the rate of pollution in the province of Basra during the next five years.