Iraq is one of the few countries where a high volume of reserves remains yet resources have vastly been under exploited. Although Iraq ranks highly as an oil producer, major fields are yet to reach their expected peak production rates and only a few fields are in development. In early 2011, the Iraq Oil Ministry announced a fourth licensing round. Included in the round are twelve licenses that were not previously on offer in the provinces of Najaf, Karbala, Samawa, Diwaniya and Anbar. The fourth license round is on track with the ministry’s plan to pursue unexploited reserves. Development of infrastructure will be needed in order for Iraq to achieve a target production capacity of almost 12 million b/d by 2017.
The Iraq oil industry has of course been heavily hit by U.S sanctions, war and weak infrastructure. At the end of 2010, the United States voted to lift sanctions against Iraq opening the country up to foreign investment. The last few years have seen the Iraq Oil Ministry pursue an ambitious development program to develop fields and increase production. There have been three license rounds in Iraq since 2008 and twelve contracts were signed with International Companies (IOCs). A two phased development is being pursued in which current producing fields are being developed to maximize their potential, followed by the development of non-producing fields.
Terms of the contracts on offer by the Iraq Oil Ministry are by no means favourable (service contracts in which companies earn a fee for each barrel of oil produced) but the appeal of high prospective reserves has so far held the interest of IOCs. The first phase to boost current production sees the involvement of various IOCs in three major fields. The table below shows a list of the fields awarded in June 2009, ownership, remaining reserves, current production, and the 2017 expected crude production capacity.
|Asset Name||Operator||Asset Ownership||Reserves Crude/NGL - Remaining (mln bbls) -||Crude Oil Production (000 b/d) -||Estimated Capacity - Crude/NGL (000 b/d) -|