...the process is "Just like cola fizzing. When the top is popped, pressure is lowered and gas is released.”

Natural gas separated from the oil is collected and, at most oil fields, enters a pipeline to be used at power plants, to produce liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), or be re-injected underground to maintain reservoir pressures.

Although LPG is the product used for cooking in Iraq, circumstances in Iraq are not normal and natural gas pipelines and the country’s LPG plants are still being restored. Therefore, the valuable natural gas resource is flared (burned) at the GOSP. As facilities are repaired, it should be processed into LPG, used for petrochemicals, or re-injected underground.

Washing the oil removes “salts” in the final step in GOSP process. Salts are soluble minerals dominantly sodium chloride (table salt), but also including a mix of potassium and calcium chlorides, sulfates and borates. The natural salt in the Rumaylah oil is removed by mixing the oil with water from the Qarmat Ali Water Plant to form an emulsion. As the oil and water “mix”, the salt molecules in the oil attach to the water molecules. When the process is complete, the oil and water separate naturally and the water containing extracted salts is discarded.


After removing salt the crude oil is transported by pipeline to the Basra Refinery to be refined into petroleum products, to powerplants to be used for electricity production, or delivered for export. About 80% of the oil produced in the Rumaylah field is exported through an oil terminal located in the Persian Gulf, according to the Corps report.

In interviews with engineers and managers on the gas side of the industry, South Gas Co. officials are complaining that not enough attention is being paid to restoring their facilities. South Gas Co. has current liquid petroleum gas output of 1,200 tons per day, short of the pre-war 3,200 tons per day, says Abdul Ruof Ibrahim, SGC senior engineer. “Nothing has really been done to get back to these levels,” Ibrahim says.

Wright agrees the South Gas plant has “remarkable capacity”—enough to meet Iraq’s domestic needs in LPG. But of the five trains—two natural gas liquids and three LPG, only one of each type is operating. He says $8 million has been spent on repairs to the LPG line, but predicts it will become a high priority project soon.

Thair Ibrahim Jabar, South Refineries director general, has similar complaints about progress restoring refineries. He says Basra and Meesan are operating at about 62% capacity, producing 136,000 bbl per day. A third refinery in the south, the 30,000-bbl-per-day Nasiriyah plant, is off line awaiting repairs. Jabar says that of a dozen refinery projects initially identified for reconstruction, only one, Meesan, has been completed.