China brings Ahdab field online

After renegotiating a Saddam Hussein-era contract, the China National Petroleum Corp. starts pumping Ahdab oil.
Chinese workers conduct seismic surveys at the Ahdab oil field in Wasit province on March 11, 2009. (THAIER AL-SUDANI/Reuters)

The Ahdab oil field is now producing 35,000 barrels per day (bpd) - and could reach 200,000 bpd by the beginning of 2013 - having overcome controversy since a Chinese state oil firm inked the deal in 2008.

Its development is both a bellwether of an emerging Sino-Iraqi strategic partnership, and a product of the oil strategy pioneered by Hussain al-Shahristani, who was oil minister at the time of the deal's signing and subsequently enlisted the world's largest oil companies in a dozen more contracts to help super-charge the Iraqi oil sector.

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