However, years of conflict and under-investment thereafter saw production rates fall steadily, dropping by around 5% every year by the early part of the 21st century. Average daily production at that point rarely reached beyond 1 million bpd. However, the dedication, determination and skill of the Iraqi Basra Oil Company (previously known as SOC) workforce ensured that the oilfield remained operational during the most difficult moments, often using equipment that was over 50 years old.
The Ministry of Oil developed a 20-year Technical Service Contract to increase production and modernize every aspect of the operation.
Safety was made the no1 priority and an initial increased production target was set and reached ahead of time in December 2010, raising the average daily production level from 1.06 to 1.2 million barrels per day (bpd). This reversed the previously declining production trends and proved the potential of the field for future increased production. It was a huge achievement given the poor state of much of the field’s infrastructure at that time.