Iraq's ongoing international oil expo has seen enthusiastic participation from Chinese companies, which are ready to join Iraq to further develop its rich oil resources.
The four-day event, named International Exhibition and Conference for Oil Projects and Licensing Tours, commenced on Sunday in Baghdad and will run through Wednesday.
Chen Xinrong, general manager of PetroChina International Company Ltd. (Middle East), told Xinhua that "by participating in this exhibition, PetroChina can promote its subsidiaries so as to provide better services for Iraq and contribute to the development of the Iraqi oil and gas sector."
Iraq's economy is overwhelmingly dominated by the oil sector. According to an overview report of Iraqi development by the World Bank, during the period of 2012-2022, oil revenues accounted for more than 99 percent of Iraq's exports, 85 percent of the government's budget, and 42 percent of its gross domestic product.
At the opening ceremony, Iraqi Oil Minister Hayan Abdul-Ghani also highlighted the importance of the event, saying its goal is to promote projects that support oil-related industries such as petrochemicals and refineries, ultimately bolstering the national economy.
He also emphasized his ministry's collaboration with international companies involved in licensing rounds and assisted them in implementing investment projects, maximizing production, and exporting surplus abroad.
Besides, Iraq has a strategy to upgrade the oil sector while creating an attractive investment environment for international companies, said Bassim Mohammed Khudair, the Oil Ministry's undersecretary for extraction affairs, at the ceremony.
In war-torn Iraq's much-needed energy-related and other infrastructure projects, Chinese companies have established a strong foothold, thanks to the strategic partnership between China and Iraq established in 2015 and the two sides' cooperation under the Belt and Road Initiative.
The China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC), which entered the Middle East market more than ten years ago, has become the main contractor for the super-giant oil field in the southern Iraqi province of Maysan.
Xie Wensheng, chief representative of CNOOC for the Middle East region, told Xinhua that CNOOC had established a joint institution with Iraq's state-owned Missan Oil Company, with 85 percent of its employees being Iraqis.
Xie noted that CNOOC, the operation network of which has expanded to more than 10 Mideast countries, aspires to seek more business partners and opportunities in Iraq at the expo.
ZhenHua Oil, another Chinese oil trader, entered the Iraqi market in 2008 and is currently operating two projects, one in the al-Ahdab oilfield and the other in the East Baghdad oil field.
Zhang Wei, chief finance officer of ZhenHua Oil EBS Petroleum Company Ltd., took the expo as a platform to "showcase the strength and achievements of his company, as well as inject new impetus into the future development of Chinese companies, including ZhenHua, in Iraq."
Riyadh Mahmoud, an Iraqi assistant engineer who came to the exhibition from Iraq's southern port city of Basra, told Xinhua that he greatly appreciates the participation of Chinese companies in the exhibition, saying "Chinese oil firms have a major role in developing the oil industry and increasing the oil production of Iraq."
He added that Chinese companies' participation in the event reflects their interest in Iraq and keenness to share Chinese expertise with Iraqis for mutual benefit.