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bp responds to BBC story on Rumaila oilfield

Release date:
16 February 2023
As we said last September, we are extremely concerned by the issues raised by the BBC

We are in action. Working with the partners at Rumaila we reviewed the issues raised and how to address them.  ROO continues to make good progress at the Rumaila field – reducing flaring, reducing emissions, and improving support and engagement with local communities.  


  • Gas flaring – ROO continues to reduce gas flaring from its operated facilities at Rumaila. This reduced by a further 20% during 2022 – contributing to a reduction of more than 65% over the past seven years. This is a further result of ROO’s multi-year improvement programme. 
  • Black smoke – ROO is accelerating its programme of reducing black smoke emissions, prioritising the six facilities it operates that are near local communities. In 2022, work was completed at three locations, and work is already underway at the remaining three operated facilities. This is expected to complete this year. 
  • Supporting local communities – ROO continues to engage with local community representatives and prioritise Social Welfare Fund support for community health initiatives. Following a review of procedures for listening and responding to community complaints, ROO has delivered renewed communications and staff training and is encouraging both reinstatement of community committees and greater inclusion for women.   


ROO continues to use data and insights to inform ongoing improvements across the field. This includes an expanded and ongoing programme of air monitoring.  


bp and PetroChina continue to provide technical advice and support to Basra Energy Company Limited (BECL), who are working closely with the Rumaila Operating Organisation (ROO) – which is the operator of the oilfield.  


The reductions in gas flaring and black smoke emissions are possible through ROO’s ongoing work with the Basrah Gas Company (BGC), which is responsible for managing the gas produced by a number of major oilfields in the region, including Rumaila. 


ROO is fully committed to delivering further improvements and bp will continue to support these efforts as a matter of urgency. 


Supplementary information: 


Flaring of gas 

Further progress has been made in 2022. ROO estimates that as a result of its interventions flaring of gas from its operated facilities at Rumaila decreased more than 65% from 2016 to 2022. 




Statement on 29 September 2022
We are extremely concerned by the issues raised by the BBC. We immediately engaged our partners and are working to understand those concerns in great detail. Together, we will take urgent action on any necessary interventions

The BBC and Greenpeace Unearthed contacted bp directly and we provided the following statement in response to a series of questions they asked.


Rumaila is Iraq’s largest oilfield and plays an essential role in the country’s economy. After years of conflict and under-investment, the field required extensive repair and modernisation. bp and partners – state-owned Basra Oil Company, PetroChina and Iraq’s Oil Marketing Company – have worked to support the rehabilitation and operation of the field.

Over $20 billion has been invested in Rumaila and significant improvements made. These include improvements in the safety culture of the field’s 6,000-strong workforce, operational safety improvements, clearing of historic contamination and unexploded munitions, reducing emissions, and improving the integrity of the field’s ageing infrastructure. Important initiatives in infrastructure, education and health have also been delivered in the communities around Rumaila, such as new roads, health clinics and school refurbishment.

Management of gas produced alongside the oil is a significant challenge, and progress has been made here. Working with the Basrah Gas Company, flaring of Rumaila’s gas has reduced by almost 60% over the past six years. Plans are also in place to continue to reduce emissions more widely from the field.

Wherever we work, we aim to support safe, responsible and reliable operations, bringing our experience and technology to help deliver improvements. Despite the progress that has been made at Rumaila, we know there is much still to do.

We are extremely concerned by the issues raised by the BBC − we will immediately review those concerns and work with our partners on any necessary interventions. We are fully committed to supporting further improvements at this vitally important field for Iraq.


In line with standard practice across the oil and gas industry, bp reports flaring from activities where we are the operator and emissions data from activities where we operate or have an ownership interest.

bp does not have any ownership interest in the Rumaila field, or any right to the oil it produces, and has never been its operator. Its flaring and operational data are therefore not included in our reporting.

We are paid a fee for the technical services we provide at Rumaila, which we have taken as allocations of oil – these are included in our reporting.



The Rumaila oilfield


  • Rumaila is a complex giant oilfield that spans an area of over 1,600 square kilometres. It has been producing for almost 70 years and today produces around one third of Iraq’s oil output.
  • The field experienced significant under-investment as a result of the years of conflicts and sanctions, requiring repairs and modernisation to improve its safety, infrastructure, operations and production.
  • More than 6,000 Iraqi staff now work for the field and an estimated further c. 35,000 work across its supply chain.
  • Rumaila is one of a number of major oil and gas fields operating alongside other industrial businesses in southern Iraq.

Rumaila Operating Organisation


  • The Rumaila field is owned by the state-owned Basra Oil Company.
  • In December 2009 Basra Oil Company (then called South Oil Company) awarded a technical service contract to three companies – bp, PetroChina and Iraq’s Oil Marketing Company (SOMO) – to help rehabilitate and improve the field’s infrastructure, operations and production.
  • The operator of the field is the Rumaila Operating Organisation (ROO) that was established by Basra Oil Company together with bp, PetroChina and SOMO.
  • Until recently bp was the lead contractor that, under the technical service contract, supervised ROO’s activities.
  • In June 2022, bp and PetroChina transferred their interests in the technical service contract to Basra Energy Company Limited (BECL), which was also appointed the lead contractor. BECL is a joint venture wholly owned by PetroChina and bp.


Flaring of gas


  • Flaring of the gas that is produced alongside oil at Rumaila is a significant challenge that ROO is taking steps to address.
  • Progress has been made in recent years. ROO estimates that as a result of its interventions flaring of gas from its operated facilities at Rumaila decreased almost 60% from 2016 to 2021.
  • These and further reductions are possible through work with the Basrah Gas Company (BGC), which is responsible for managing the gas produced by a number of major oilfields in the region, including Rumaila.
  • BGC has continued to develop and improve gas infrastructure and operations, some of which is located alongside Rumaila’s facilities.

Improvements and safety at Rumaila


  • Safety is ROO’s priority – its safety record has seen reductions in the number of high potential incidents, near misses and injuries.
  • Significant investment has been made to replace hundreds of kilometres of corroded flowlines within the field.
  • More than 40,000 land mines and other unexploded munitions have been removed from an area of more than 220 square kilometres within and surrounding the field.
  • Remediation has been carried out on more than 3.6 million square metres of identified historic contamination, recovering more than 11 million barrels of oil.
  • The 150MW Rumaila Power Plant has been built to provide power to the field, fuelled by some of the gas produced at the field.

Community support


  • ROO also provides support in infrastructure, health, training and education to the communities that live around the Rumaila oilfield, working through community forums and liaison officers. ROO’s community liaison officer meets frequently with representatives of the two main communities near the field.
  • ROO has delivered over 50 km of new roads in local communities as well as improved power cabling to help address intermittent power supply.
  • Educational support has included refurbishing school buildings and funding a women’s training centre with integrated childcare.
  • ROO has funded health facilities available to thousands of local residents, including community health clinics (both at Al Khora and mobile) and a women’s health volunteer programme.
  • During the COVID-19 pandemic, bp provided $250,000 of personal protective equipment to Basra Health Authority.
  • ROO has long-standing procedures in place to receive and manage concerns or complaints from communities, supporting their resolution at site level or escalation through the ROO organisation or to government as appropriate.

bp’s reporting


  • In line with standard practice across the oil and gas industry, bp reports flaring where we operate, and reports greenhouse gas emissions where we operate or have an ownership interest in a field or its production.
  • At Rumaila bp was, until recently, a contractor to the Iraqi government (it transferred its interest to BECL in June 2022) and bp has never operated the field. As a contractor, bp had no ownership interest in the Rumaila field nor any right to oil produced at the field.
  • Flaring and operational data from Rumaila are therefore not included in our reporting.
  • We are paid fees for the technical services we provide, taking them as an allocation of crude oil. Investment made under the TSC is also recovered as crude oil allocations.
  • In 2021 bp received approximately 43,000 barrels a day of oil from Iraq in such allocations for fees and cost recovery; Rumaila produced around 1.4 million barrels a day of oil in 2021. We include the allocations we receive in our reporting.

Further information




bp press office, London: bppress@bp.com