AMARA, IRAQ - An angered farmer is awaiting a verdict in a nearly $2 million lawsuit claiming that the South Oil Company took over his land without just compensation, in an early test of whether and how the government will compensate Iraqis who are displaced or adversely affected by the oil-sector expansion.
Sheikh Sadoon Hameed asserts that oil operations began on his farm land in Missan province in 2001. The Missan Oil Company, a new state firm which took over the province's oil operations from the South Oil Company in 2008, wouldn't comment on the case because a verdict is expected soon from a special court in Basra.
Missan is a rising star in Iraq's oil sector. Two of the 11 oil projects awarded over the past year to foreign oil companies are in the province. The two Chinese-led projects will bring the province's production to nearly 1 million barrels per day (bpd) within seven years part of a larger plan to boost Iraqs production from 2.4 million bpd to 12.5 million bpd.
But legal challenges, complaints from locals, and an array of logistical and bureaucratic roadblocks are complicating the efforts to turn Iraq into the world's largest-ever oil producer.
Hameed claims the Missan Oil Company still controls his property.
A court in Amara, the capital of Missan, has been working with a special court hearing claims in Basra against the South Oil Company. Responsibility for the lawsuit was split between courts because the defendants changed two years ago. The Basra court will deliver the verdict.
In March of this year a panel of three agricultural experts were tasked by the Amara court to "conduct site assessments," according to court documents.
The purpose was "to assess the degree of damages in these lands due (to) industrial water injection operations for the period from 14/04/2001 to 02/07/2009."
Hameed is asking for $1.86 million in deprived income plus anything else the agriculture experts determine, as well as court costs.