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Lack of skilled iraqi employees preventing oil industry progress

In a country where the unemployment rate has caused mass demonstrations, one local economist believes that Iraq lacks thousands of skilled workers for the oil industry – and that this is preventing progress in the all-important oil industry.

It is the lack of skilled local labour in Iraq’s oil and gas industries that is preventing this all-important industry from progressing the way it should. At least, that is the opinion of Iraqi economist, Abdul Rahman al-Mashhadani, who heads the Mustansiriya Centre for Arab and International Studies, part of Mustansiriya University in Baghdad.

Al-Mashhadani estimates that, in order for Iraq to reach its much vaunted target of 12 million barrels of oil a day by 2017, the country needs another 150,000 skilled workers for the oil industry.

“We cannot achieve our great ambitions with the number of workers we have now,” al-Mashhadani told NIQASH. “The difference between the number of skilled workers needed and the actual number of skilled workers Iraq has accounts for the many foreign labourers here. There are hundreds of foreign workers in places like Basra and Amara, where much of Iraq’s oil is being produced.”

The Ministry of Oil in Iraq also admits that the country needs thousands more skilled labourers but, unlike al-Mashhadani, it was unable to put an actual number on that need as it is only just finalizing a report on the study.

However Ministry spokesperson, Asem Jihad, did refute al-Mashhadani’s numbers, saying that the economist’s projected figures were exaggerated. He may be right. According to other local analysts, an estimated 10,000 workers are needed per each extra million barrels of oil. And then according to international oil firms like British Petroleum (BP), French company Total and Italy’s ENI, Iraq needs anything between just over 5,000 workers per million barrels of oil to just over 7,000…

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