EghtesadOnline: Flash floods during the past three weeks in the west and southwest are taking a toll on oil production in oil-rich Khuzestan Province, the National Iranian Oil Company's deputy managing director for planning said.
"Ahvaz-3, Ahvaz-5, Abteymour and Mansouri Oilfields in Khuzestan Province, have been adversely affected by the heavy floodwaters," Karim Zobeidi was quoted as saying by IRNA.
Several wells in the giant Azadegan Oilfield near the Iraqi border have been inundated due to the proximity to the west of Karoun River and production is continuing with difficulty.
"Oil facilities at risk of inundation have been shut down to protect the environment and precautionary measures are being taken not to let more water enter oilfields shared between Iran and Iraq like Yaran, Yadavaran and Darkhoein," he said, noting that the deluge has caused problems in some pipelines and some main valves were closed to avoid possible explosions, Financial Tribune reported.
Zobeidi added that despite the mounting challenges NIOC is still producing 350,000 barrels per day from West Karoun oilfields namely Yaran, Yadavaran and Darkhoein. The block holds an estimated 67 billion barrels of oil in place.
Oil fields owned jointly by Iran and Iraq including South Azadegan, North Azadegan, Yadavaran, North Yaran and South Yaran, are located near the Hawizeh Marshes, which straddles the border between the two neighbors and is known to locals as Hoor al-Azim.
In response to rumors on the social media that the Oil Ministry has blocked Hoor al-Azim lagoon to protect oil production facilities, Oil Minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh noted, "It is a big lie. NIOC will never put people's life in danger to produce some barrels of oil.”
Zanganeh said most oil wells in the region have been surrounded by water “nonetheless oil operations continue."
The rumor mill had it that in recent days that Oil Ministry redirected Karkheh and Dez River floodwaters to Ahvaz to help keep oil facilities out of danger.
Total damage to oil facilities is estimated at 1 trillion rials ($100 million), Zanganeh said.
More water is being released from Dez and Karkheh Dams to keep reservoirs empty as more rainfall has been forecast in the western region in the coming days.
Gholamreza Shariati, Khuzestan's governor general, was quoted by IRNA as saying that more residents from the inundated areas in Ahvaz were evacuated on Thursday. Nationwide death toll from the worst flooding in 70 years has been reported at 77.
"More than 200 villages have been evacuated in Khuzestan and 46,000 people have been housed in emergency shelters in the past two weeks."
More districts in Ahvaz were put on flood alert on Friday, Shariati said, as more rainfall was expected. A hospital in the city was also evacuated on Wednesday.
Floods described by officials as the worst since the 1940s have hit 1,900 cities and villages across Iran after exceptionally heavy rains since March 19. The western and southwestern areas have been affected the most.
The massive disaster has left aid agencies struggling to cope and the armed forces are helping the flood-stricken people.
Early estimates put flood losses in the agriculture sector alone at $350 million.
The government has informed the flood-affected farmers that all losses will be compensated. This is while the government budget is already stretched under US sanctions on energy and banking sectors that have halved Iranian oil exports and restricted access to overseas revenues.