After the release of the film, Iraq’s Oil Minister Ihsan Abdul Jabbar Ismail has promised that by 2026 gas flaring from the Rumaila oil field will be ended.
But he issued this statement on the last day of his tenure and the targets announced earlier to end flaring have not been met.
It is not clear whose responsibility is to be fixed for ending the flaring. This oil field is owned by the Iraqi government but managed by British Petroleum along with its subsidiary companies.
Abdul Jabbar, the then oil minister, told that it was BP’s responsibility to end flaring.
At the same time, BP says that this responsibility lies with the operator of the oil field. The field is run by the Rumela Operating Organisation, a company founded by BP, in which BP holds a 48% stake.
Several people associated with BP contacted the and wanted to tell them how bad the real situation is on the ground.
Robert (name changed) is a former employee of BP Rumela. “BP, as the prime contractor, had a responsibility [to the Iraqi government] to implement the best international standards in the operation and management of Rumaila,” he told us.
He adds that the gas flaring at Rumella is “just the beginning” of “horrific practices that will not be accepted in any other BP operation, nor are they in line with the international standards that BP is responsible for enforcing.” “
In the oilfields, he said, failure to maintain and upgrade systems and infrastructure in the field had led to systemic problems, leading to “repeated oil spills, unplanned gas leaks and flaring.”
This claim has also been made by other BP employees and they have seen video evidence of the massive oil spill at the Rumaila oil field.
Two other former BP employees have told the that the site is not adequately monitored for pollution, causing them to worry about their safety.
A BP spokesperson said, “We strongly deny the claims you have made regarding operational safety at Rumelia. Major improvements have been made since BP began working with its other partners in Iraq. After years of struggle and under-investment, there is much more that needs to be done and we are fully committed to further improving Rumela and we are doing so immediately.”
As for Ali, his leukemia is in remission and his immune system is still weak.
His studies were left midway and now he cannot participate in sports. He had earlier represented his school in regional football competitions.
Many of the cancer-afflicted children we met have died. Thirteen years old Fatima and Mustafa were also among them, who used to live near the oil field.
Five-year-old Benin, who lives near Rumela, has also died. Benin’s elder brother had already died of this disease.
(left to right) Mustafa, Fatima, and Benin have died of cancer
Ali has contacted BP several times to seek compensation for his missed education.
Ali says that after the broadcast of the report, an employee of Rumela’s operating company came to him. Ali has again demanded damages from him.
He said, “I told him that look how sick I have become because of BP’s pollution and asked if BP would compensate me for the damage done to my health. But I haven’t received any response from their side yet.”
BP says that it is not appropriate to comment on the private conversation between Rumela’s employee and any person.
But BP has also said that soon after being contacted by the “BP has begun working closely with its partners at Rumela to look into the issues raised, and how to address where necessary.” In this, the process of helping the local community and understanding their concerns is also being reviewed. This work is still going on.