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Iraqi Oil Potential and Implications for Global Oil Markets and OPEC Politics



Sustainable Transportation Energy Pathways (STEPS)

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Suggested Citation:
Elass, Jareer and Amy Myers Jaffe (2011) Iraqi Oil Potential and Implications for Global Oil Markets and OPEC Politics. James A Baker III Institute for Public Policy

In October 2010, then-Iraqi oil minister Hussain al-Shahristani announced that Iraq’s proven oil reserves had been increased by 25 percent from 115 billion to 143.1 billion barrels. The timing of the announcement, though also linked to Iraq’s newly emerging information about its oil fields, was seen as politically motivated within the context of future oil production sharing agreements of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC). Iraq is currently excused from OPEC’s quota system but sees its long-term potential in line with the productive capacity of Saudi Arabia. Historically, Iraq’s quota has been set at parity with that of Iran, which has a far lower oil reserve base than Saudi Arabia. Iraq has the potential to increase production from 2.5 million barrels a day (b/d) in 2010 to more than 5 million b/d in the next five to 10 years. Iraq has expressed the ambition to reach 10 to 12 million b/d of production by 2017 but this lofty target will be difficult, given mounting political, bureaucratic and infrastructure related barriers.