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Russia rebuilds Iraq's energy sector in areas freed from ISIS militants

After 14 years of conflict and insurgency, Iraq is recovering the oil-producing areas seized by ISIS. Gazprom Neft is one of the Russian companies helping the country rebuild its oil and gas industry. RT’s Daniel Hawkins went to the town of Badra to see the work in progress.

The Badra oil field is located near the Iranian border and was recently on the frontline of the battle against Islamic militants. It holds reserves of around three billion barrels of crude.

The Gulf Wars and the Iran-Iraq conflicts make this one of the most dangerous places in the world to operate with landmines and explosives littering the desert.

Before the work began, 30 million square meters had to be de-mined with over 20,000 explosive devices from previous conflicts found and removed.

Apart from the remnants of wars specialists from Russia and Korea had to overcome some natural obstacles.

The region is a hard place to drill. Tough multi-layered rock formations mean drilling as deep as five kilometers.

"I joined the project in 2014. The main problem we faced was tough geological locations. We came across problems with the construction of wells, what chemicals to use. Three years on we have halved construction time, all those problems have been minimized,” one Gazprom engineer told RT.

The Russian operator company Gazprom Neft Badra is developing the oil field in the Wasit Province of eastern Iraq. The operator represents the interests of the international consortium that includes Russia’s Gazprom Neft, South Korean KOGAS, Malaysia's Petronas, Turkish TPAO and the Iraqi government. The project is scheduled to take 20 years.

Under the government contract, at least 20 percent of the rig's workforce has to come from the local area.

Along with jobs Iraqis from Badra are given training, earning critical roles on the drilling rig. Some of their children also study at a local school built by Gazprom just minutes from the base.

The oil sector isn’t the only area of Iraqi-Russian cooperation. Gazprom Neft delivers gas to the Az-Zubaydiyah gas and power station. The plant is expected to become a principal electricity source for surrounding regions as well as providing gas for export.

Gazprom Neft is in talks with the Iraqi government to develop more oil fields in the region.