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Under Poisoned Skies - Iraq’s Toxic Oil Fields

May 27, 2024

International oil giants are responsible for causing severe health problems in Iraq. The impact of toxic air pollution on the planet through gas flaring puts the lives of children and adults at serious risk.

Under Poisoned Skies - Iraq’s Toxic Oil Fields
Fatima`s family lives 2,5 km from Zubair oil field gas flares.Image: Journeyman

Gas flaring, the harmful practice of burning excess natural gas during oil production, contributes to global warming through carbon dioxide and methane emissions. 

Under Poisoned Skies - Iraq’s Toxic Oil Fields
Men fishing in river in Nahran Omar.Image: Journeyman

That’s why all the top oil companies and many countries have pledged to end routine flaring by 2030. But in 2021, Iraq was the world's second-worst gas flaring country and is warming twice as fast as the global average. 

"Under Poisoned Skies” reveals how some of the world’s biggest oil companies have managed to avoid declaring a substantial amount of flaring emissions, giving the impression to investors and the public that they are on track to hit these targets. Filmed in southern Iraq, home to some of the world’s biggest oil fields, the documentary also follows Professor Shukri, a professor of environmental pollution, as he tries to find out why people living near gas flares say that for them, "cancer is like the flu”.

Under Poisoned Skies - Iraq’s Toxic Oil Fields
Ali Hussein JuloodImage: Journeyman

People like 20-year-old cancer survivor Ali, who lives in the middle of an oil field that he and his friends describe as "the cemetery”.

Under Poisoned Skies - Iraq’s Toxic Oil Fields
Professor Shukri testing pollution levels in Nahan Omar.Image: Journeyman

With the support of global pollution experts specializing in environmental pollution, Professor Shukri conducts tests to measure pollution levels near oil fields. It’s the first time public data on pollution levels has been recorded in these communities. The results are concerning, and prompt Professor Shukri to ask: "why are we paying the price for this smoke which comes from the oil companies?”

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