IRAQ’S OIL SECTOR:  PAST, PRESENT AND FUTURE

Amy Myers Jaffe, James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy

 Iraq holds an important place in the political development and economic trend of the international oil market both historically and at the present time. Iraq’s stated proven oil reserves of 115 billion barrels -while perhaps somewhat overestimated during the rule of Saddam Hussein- are among the largest in the world. The country’s resource base is considered the second largest in the world, second to Saudi Arabia, and its oil export policy has been a critical element in setting international oil supply and pricing for over 30 years. Iraq was a founding member of the cartel of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and was among the first oil producing countries to nationalize some of its oil fields in 1961. Iraq’s Iraq National Oil Company (INOC) was an early leader in international oil policy and could play a similar role in the future, depending on the inclinations of a new Iraqi government

 

 

The study focused on the Iraqi national media and based its analysis on the content of three  ajor outlets: al-Sabah and al-Zaman newspapers, and Aswat al-Iraq news agency.
In total, 161 energy-related stories that were published over a period of two months, during  September and October 2010, were analysed in two parts: a generic analysis that looked at the structure of the articles and the uality of sourcing; and a more specific analysis rela
to the oil industry itself, including technical accuracy.
Of the stories analysed, some 72% came from a single source. A staggering 82% of all stories depended on official government sources. Over half of the stories lacked sourcing in  a way that significantly affected the credibility of the news storyThe picture which emerges, then, is of an Iraqi media which still relI'm ies overwhelmingly on the state for official pronouncements and declarations, while the Iraqi state seems to have become more adept at recognising the media as a part of public life and dealing with theirneeds. All outlets also carried monthly official news releases about the volumes of oil exportedand the funds gained. This suggests that working with authorities on expanding the scop and detail of official releases could have a significant impact on the quality of information  available to the
public. The study recommends that contacts are made as soon as possible with the widest range of institutions in the Iraqi oil sector to see what the possibilities are for expanded and coordinated information releases
 
 
 
 
 

 

 
 

Summary

This study provides an overview of Iraq’s oil and gas revenue sharing, that is, the revenue that the Iraq national government earns from extraction and then redistributes to subnational—provincial and regional—governments.It outlines the country’s attempts at fiscal decentralization and provides an overview of how resource revenues are collected and then shared with subnational governments. The study also provides information on any statutory earmarks on the revenue, and the level of transparency surrounding the revenue sharing system. It is primarily intended to inform policy debates on revenue sharing in Iraq and other countries, as well as to assist researchers interested in further exploring key issues related to this topic. It forms part of a broader set of country case studies on revenue sharing. In 2015, Iraq had 144 billion barrels of proven oil reserves, the fifth largest in the world,1 and almost 112 trillion cubic feet of proven natural gas reserves, the 12th largest in the world.2 The country is highly dependent on oil production: in 2015, the Iraqi federal government (hereafter referred to as the IFG) estimated that USD 67.8 billion (or 84 percent) of its total budgeted revenue for that year would come from the oil and gas sector.3 Iraq is a federal country comprising 1

 

 

 

The heavy centralization by which the Iraqi oil sector used to be run meant that it was not necessary to accurately determine the geographic locations of oil and gas fields in relation to the provinces’ administrative borders. However, now that the new Constitution has been ratified, it has become necessary to determine these locations due to their relevance to exploration and production operations management. The new Constitution has indeed transferred managerial responsibility for new oil operations to the regions and provinces, as well as allowing the latter to take part in the production operations management of current fields.

 

 

 

Prior to 1956, the eastern part of the Baghdad Governorate was separated from Baghdad City by an earth barrier called the Nadhim Pasha Dam, established in 1908 to protect the city from the annual floods of the Tigris River. Consequently, the area was underpopulated apart from isolated settlements, where peasants from southern Iraq built shanty houses to live and find work in the city. In 1956, however, the annual floods were permanently prevented by the construction of the Tharthar Dam, 100 km north-west of Baghdad, and the area east of the original city became available for building. 

 

 

The Rumaila oil field is a super-giant oil field[1] located in southern Iraq, approximately 20 mi (32 km) from the Kuwaiti border.[2] Discovered in 1953 by the Basrah Petroleum Company (BPC), an associate company of the Iraq Petroleum Company (IPC),[3][4][5] the field is estimated to contain 17 billion barrels, which accounts for 12% of Iraq's oil reserves estimated at 143.1 billion barrels.[6][7][8] Rumaila is said to be the largest oilfield ever discovered in Iraq[9] and is considered the third largest oil field in the world.[10]

Under Abd al-Karim Qasim, the oilfield was confiscated by the Iraqi government by Public Law No. 80 of 11 December 1961.[11] Since then, this massive oil field has remained under Iraqi control. The assets and rights of IPC were nationalised by Saddam Hussein in 1972, and those of BPC in 1975.[12] The dispute betwen Iraq and Kuwait over alleged slant-drilling in the field was one of reasons for Iraq's invasion of Kuwait in 1990.[13][14]

 

 

 

 

There are more than 100 oil and gas fields in Iraq, containing more than 137 billion barrels of recoverable oil and more than 106 TCF of recoverable gas. Of this large resource, about 25 billion barrels of oil and 11 TCF of gas have been produced as of 2014.

Nearly all of the oil and gas occurs in fields located within the Mesopotamian foredeep, Gotnia Basin, and Zagros foldbelt. Minor discoveries and shows have been found on the Arabian platform along the western flank of the Mesopotamian foredeep. There is one gas discovery (Akkas field) on the Arabian platform in western Iraq.

Ninety-eight percent of the oil and gas occurs in reservoirs of Cenozoic and Cretaceous age. The largest reserves occur in: 1) carbonate rocks of the Kirkuk Group (Lower Miocene–Oligocene), in fields within the Zagros foldbelt of northeastern Iraq, the largest being Kirkuk field; 2) carbonate rocks of the Mishrif Formation (Turonian–Cenomanian), in fields within the Mesopotamian foredeep and Zagros foldbelt in southern and central Iraq, including Rumaila, West Qurna, Majnoon, Halfayah, Zubair, and Buzurgan fields; and 3) siliciclastic rocks of the Zubair Formation (Albian–Barremian), in fields within the Mesopotamian foredeep and Zagros foldbelt in southern and central Iraq, including East Baghdad, Rumaila, West Qurna, and Zubair fields. Large reserves also occur in carbonate rocks of the Upper Cretaceous above the Mishrif Formation and in the Lower Cretaceous below the Zubair Formation. Smaller reserves occur in other Neogene and Paleogene carbonates and siliciclastics, in Jurassic and Triassic carbonates, and in Ordovician siliciclastics.

 

 

The relationship between Shell and the Majnoon Oilfield dates from late 2009. Now there are more than 3,000 people working to rebuild the facility in Iraq.There is a flag that flies every day (during the hottest period of the year) over Shell’s Central Processing Facility under assembly at the Majnoon oil field in south-eastern Iraq. The colour can change every day, for it acts like a warning signal on an Atlantic beach. A blue flag means that the temperature is below 28 degrees Celsius, while an orange one signifies that it is lower than 38 degrees. A red flag warns that things are hotting up, between 38 and 50 degrees, and everybody is made to take a break every 20 minutes and drink some water. When the mercury hits 50 degrees or more it is time for the construction workers to lay down their tools and seek some shade and a purple flag is flown. “We had a month in the summer, and it was Ramadan too, when the purple flag was flying,” says Philip Hayhurst, Petrofac’s construction manager who is in charge of making sure that the plant is put together on time, and in the right order.