Oil reserves in Iraq
As a result of military occupation and civil unrest, the official statistics have not been revised since 2001 and are largely based on 2-D seismic data from three decades ago. International geologists and consultants have estimated that unexplored territory may contain vastly larger reserves.
A measure of the uncertainty about Iraq's oil reserves is indicated by widely differing estimates. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) estimated in 2003 that Iraq had 112 billion barrels (17.8×109 m3). The United States Geological Survey (USGS) in 1995 estimated proven reserves were 78 Gbbl (12.4×109 m3). Iraq's prewar deputy oil minister said that potential reserves might be 300 Gbbl (48×109 m3). The source of the uncertainty is that due to decades of war and unrest, much of Iraq oil wells are run down and unkept. Repairs to the wells and oil facilities should make far more oil available economically from the same deposits. In fact, Iraq may prove to contain the largest extractable deposits of oil in the entire Middle East once this upgrading and facility improvements have advanced.
After more than a decade of sanctions and two Gulf Wars, Iraq’s oil infrastructure needs modernization and investment. Despite a large reconstruction effort, the Iraqi oil industry has not been able to meet hydrocarbon production and export targets. The World Bank estimates that an additional $1 billion per year would need to be invested just to maintain current production. Long-term Iraq reconstruction costs could reach $100-billion or higher, of which more than a third will go to the oil, gas and electricity sectors. Another challenge to Iraq's development of the oil sector is that resources are not evenly divided across sectarian lines. Most known resources are in the Shiite areas of the south and the Kurdish north, with few resources in control of the Sunni population in the center.
In 2006, Iraq's oil production averaged 2.0 million barrels per day (320×103 m3/d), down from around 2.6 Mbbl/d (410×103 m3/d) of production prior to the coalition invasion in 2003. Iraq's reserve to production ratio is 158 years.
Oil extraction contracts awarded
On June 30 and December 11, 2009, the Iraqi ministry of oil awarded contracts to international oil companies for some of Iraq's many oil fields. The winning oil companies enter joint ventures with the Iraqi ministry of oil, and the terms of the awarded contracts include extraction of oil for a fixed fee of circa $1.40 per barrel. The fees will only be paid once a production threshold set by the Iraqi ministry of oil is reached.
Oil fields contracted include the "super-giant" Majnoon Field, Halfaya Field, West Qurna Field and Rumaila Field. The East Baghdad Field, situated in part under Sadr City, did not receive any bids and the Iraqi oil ministry is considering working the field itself. Oil minister Hussein al-Shahristani told Iraqi public television that the increasing oil production "would finance infrastructure projects across Iraq - schools, roads, airports, housing, hospitals". Iraq's oil deposits hold known reserves of 43 billion barrels of crude, as well as large quantities of natural gas.
- "Iraq Oil". Country Analysis Briefs. US Energy Information Administration. 2007. Retrieved 2008-04-27.
- Gal Luft (2003). How Much Oil Does Iraq Have?. The Brookings Institution. Retrieved 2008-04-20.
- "Oil firms awarded Iraq contracts", Al Jazeera English, December 11, 2009
- "BP group wins Iraq oil contract", Al Jazeera English, June 30, 2009