Oil reserves in Iraq

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Proven oil reserves in Iraq (US EIA)

Oil reserves in Iraq are considered the world’s fifth-largest proven oil reserves, with 140 billion barrels.[1][2] The sources for this oil is primarily located in the Shiite-majority and Kurdish-majority regions. Sunni-dominated areas on the other hand are comparatively lacking.[3]

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. The majority of Iraq's proven reserves of oil comes from the following cities: Basra (Being #1), Baghdad (Being #2), Ramadi (Being #3), and finally, Ba'aj (Being the last oil rich city).[4]

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 (17.8×10^9 m3). The United States Geological Survey (USGS) in 1995 estimated proven reserves were 78 Gbbl (12.4×10^9 m3). Iraq's prewar deputy oil minister said that potential reserves might be 300 Gbbl (48×10^9 m3). The source of the uncertainty is that due to decades of war and unrest, many of Iraq's 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. Iraq may prove to contain the largest extractable deposits of oil in the entire Middle East once these upgrading and facility improvements have advanced.[5]

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 (320×10^3 m3/d), down from around 2.6 Mbbl/d (410×10^3 m3/d) of production prior to the coalition invasion in 2003.[4] Iraq's reserve to production ratio is 158 years.

Oil extraction contracts awarded[edit]


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 entered joint ventures with the Iraqi Ministry of Oil, and the terms of the awarded contracts include extraction of oil for a fixed gain of $1.40 per barrel for the oil companies with the remainder going to Iraq.[6][7] 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.[7]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "International Energy Statistics". Eia.gov. Retrieved 2015-01-11. 
  2. ^ "OPEC Share of World Crude Oil Reserves". OPEC. Retrieved 11 January 2015. 
  3. ^ http://www.vox.com/a/maps-explain-crisis-iraq
  4. ^ a b "Iraq Oil". Country Analysis Briefs. US Energy Information Administration. 2007. Retrieved 2008-04-27. 
  5. ^ Gal Luft (2003). "How Much Oil Does Iraq Have?". The Brookings Institution. Retrieved 2008-04-20. 
  6. ^ "Oil firms awarded Iraq contracts". Al Jazeera English. Retrieved 11 January 2015. 
  7. ^ a b "BP group wins Iraq oil contract". Al Jazeera English. Retrieved 11 January 2015. 

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