Lack of Federal Oil Law Cripples Iraq’s Recovery

Iraq Business News, October 20, 2012 – by Thomas W. Donovan

By Thomas W Donovan, attorney at the Iraq Law Alliance.
Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

Foreign “experts” like to depict Iraq’s oil industry as a cesspit of corruption, turmoil and factional politics. In fact, however, Iraq has made real progress, and is aiming for more. But it is true that serious legal, political and technical challenges must be met if the sector’s ambitious plans are to become reality.

Remember that the events of the last decade, beginning with the US-UK invasion of March 2003, have presented Iraq with far more social, economic, military, legal, political and infrastructure challenges than any of its Opec neighbours have faced.

Getting oil production up to the current level of about 3 million barrels per day (bpd) is an accomplishment in itself. Baghdad says production is at a 20-year high; the US says Iraq has now surpassed Iran in daily production.

The Iraqi government plans to keep pumping, and is bringing in major international oil companies. The government has now held four petroleum licensing rounds: in the first three, private companies bid to take over certain producing oil and gasfields from the old state monopoly company; the fourth was for exploration rights in promising areas not yet producing.