• 23 hours Shell Oil Trading Head Steps Down After 29 Years
  • 1 day Higher Oil Prices Reduce North American Oil Bankruptcies
  • 1 day Statoil To Boost Exploration Drilling Offshore Norway In 2018
  • 1 day $1.6 Billion Canadian-US Hydropower Project Approved
  • 1 day Venezuela Officially In Default
  • 1 day Iran Prepares To Export LNG To Boost Trade Relations
  • 2 days Keystone Pipeline Leaks 5,000 Barrels Into Farmland
  • 2 days Saudi Oil Minister: Markets Will Not Rebalance By March
  • 2 days Obscure Dutch Firm Wins Venezuelan Oil Block As Debt Tensions Mount
  • 2 days Rosneft Announces Completion Of World’s Longest Well
  • 2 days Ecuador Won’t Ask Exemption From OPEC Oil Production Cuts
  • 2 days Norway’s $1 Trillion Wealth Fund Proposes To Ditch Oil Stocks
  • 2 days Ecuador Seeks To Clear Schlumberger Debt By End-November
  • 3 days Santos Admits It Rejected $7.2B Takeover Bid
  • 3 days U.S. Senate Panel Votes To Open Alaskan Refuge To Drilling
  • 3 days Africa’s Richest Woman Fired From Sonangol
  • 3 days Oil And Gas M&A Deal Appetite Highest Since 2013
  • 3 days Russian Hackers Target British Energy Industry
  • 3 days Venezuela Signs $3.15B Debt Restructuring Deal With Russia
  • 3 days DOJ: Protestors Interfering With Pipeline Construction Will Be Prosecuted
  • 3 days Lower Oil Prices Benefit European Refiners
  • 3 days World’s Biggest Private Equity Firm Raises $1 Billion To Invest In Oil
  • 4 days Oil Prices Tank After API Reports Strong Build In Crude Inventories
  • 4 days Iraq Oil Revenue Not Enough For Sustainable Development
  • 4 days Sudan In Talks With Foreign Oil Firms To Boost Crude Production
  • 4 days Shell: Four Oil Platforms Shut In Gulf Of Mexico After Fire
  • 4 days OPEC To Recruit New Members To Fight Market Imbalance
  • 4 days Green Groups Want Norway’s Arctic Oil Drilling Licenses Canceled
  • 5 days Venezuelan Oil Output Drops To Lowest In 28 Years
  • 5 days Shale Production Rises By 80,000 BPD In Latest EIA Forecasts
  • 5 days GE Considers Selling Baker Hughes Assets
  • 5 days Eni To Address Barents Sea Regulatory Breaches By Dec 11
  • 5 days Saudi Aramco To Invest $300 Billion In Upstream Projects
  • 5 days Aramco To List Shares In Hong Kong ‘For Sure’
  • 5 days BP CEO Sees Venezuela As Oil’s Wildcard
  • 5 days Iran Denies Involvement In Bahrain Oil Pipeline Blast
  • 8 days The Oil Rig Drilling 10 Miles Under The Sea
  • 8 days Baghdad Agrees To Ship Kirkuk Oil To Iran
  • 8 days Another Group Joins Niger Delta Avengers’ Ceasefire Boycott
  • 8 days Italy Looks To Phase Out Coal-Fired Electricity By 2025
Alt Text

Google Gets There First: Autonomous Cars On The Road

Google’s self-driving car project, Waymo,…

Alt Text

New Battery Design Could Crush Tesla

Elon Musk’s old rival, Henrik…

Daniel J. Graeber

Daniel J. Graeber

Daniel Graeber is a writer and political analyst based in Michigan. His work on matters related to the geopolitical aspects of the global energy sector,…

More Info

Iraq Oil Outlook Overly Ambitious

Iraq Oil Outlook Overly Ambitious

A delegation from the International Energy Agency spent two days in Baghdad speaking with high-ranking officials in preparation for an end-of-year report on the country's oil sector. By some estimates, Iraq could hold some of the largest oil reserves in the world and an international auction for oil and natural gas blocks is planned for May. Without a hydrocarbon law, and considering the fractured political system, the IEA's report may be more about political obstacles than oil potential, however.

Baghdad announced triumphantly this week that oil production increased to more than 3 million barrels per day for the first time in more than 30 years. Exports, the government said, should increase substantially once a new floating oil terminal starts operations later this week. The IEA in December said crude oil production in Iraq could reach an average of 4.36 million bpd by 2016, about half of what Riyadh produces. The agency warned, however, that Iraq's fractured political system might be as much of an obstacle as anything.

Iraq's post-invasion political system has never been stable. Tensions in Baghdad flared up when Shiite Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki accused his Sunni Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi of terrorism almost as soon as the last American troop left the country in December. Juan Cole, the man behind the influential blog Informed Comment, said the action by Maliki "was part of an effort to marginalize and humiliate his Sunni enemies, and a sign of unwillingness to seek a grand national bargain."

Iraq may be a democratic country in theory but it certainly isn't quick on the political front, especially when it comes to passing a long-delayed hydrocarbon law. Cole, a professor of history at the University of Michigan, described Iraqi politics as anything but stable. 

"I wouldn't hold my breath on getting anything accomplished on the oil law," he said.

Maliki may be able to use his hard-ball tactics in an effort to get his way on things like the federal budget, but that doesn't necessarily equate to widespread political influence across the rest of the country, said Cole.

Kurdish leaders objected profusely when it looked like Exxon Mobil would be left out of Iraq's upcoming fourth international auction because of its contracts with the semiautonomous Kurdish government. Deputy Prime Minister Rowsch Nuri Shaways, a lawmaker from the Kurdistan Democratic Party, complained, in a statement, that Baghdad was somehow opposed to "economic openness" and the "promotion of trade." Baghdad protests that any unilateral deals with the Kurdish government are illegal, though Cole said there isn't much that the central government can do about it.

"The Iraqi government faces two big problems on petroleum development.  It is still too weak to provide security reliably for the Western corporations and their employees," he said. "And, it is still economically depressed enough to be afraid of being taken advantage of by a bidding process that favors the corporations -- causing it to drive so hard a bargain that it has spooked potential investors."

Iraq could be able to take advantage of its strategic position in the Middle East. Its Turkish neighbors to the north are keen to become an influential energy hub by playing host to some of the most ambitious oil and natural gas pipelines in the world. To Iraq's south, the Strait of Hormuz transports about 20 percent of the oil traded globally.

"Politically, however, Iraq is landlocked," said Cole.

Getting a federal budget passed this year might've been a temporary political victory for Maliki. Long term, however, it's unlikely he'll be able to make any claims to a political mandate in a country that relies so heavily on oil for its federal revenue. Baghdad has tilted at times toward Iran and higher oil prices may embolden the Shiite prime minister's position. But Iraq might find itself in a geopolitical tug-of-war given Washington's regional interests.

"Iraq is extremely vulnerable right now," Cole warned.

The IEA is expected to release its report on Iraq in October as a prelude to its full energy outlook for 2012. While expressing optimism about the prospects for the oil sector in post-war Iraq, IEA Executive Director Maria van der Hoeven said politics are getting in the way of broader developments. When asked what he would title the October report from the IEA, Cole just chuckled and said "slow progress."

By. Daniel J. Graeber of Oilprice.com




Back to homepage


Leave a comment
  • Chris on April 03 2012 said:
    Despite the fact that Iraq looks to be increasing its oil output, especially in the face of peak oil, I'm not sure news like this, even out of the IEA, can bring down oil (barrel) prices at this time.

Leave a comment




Oilprice - The No. 1 Source for Oil & Energy News