The past week has seen two of the biggest oil stories in recent times in Iraq — the approval by the Iraqi cabinet of the $17 billion project with Shell and Mitsubishi to capture gas from Iraq’s main southern oilfields, and the confirmation that the KRG has signed an exploration agreement with the giant ExxonMobil.
The Shell contract has been very broadly welcomed, and it brings us closer to the day when Iraqi homes and businesses will have a reliable supply of electricity, powered by the gas that is currently flared off into the atmosphere.
Exxon’s project, on the other hand, is more politically sensitive, and the full implications of it remain to seen.
But it is very clear that significant deals such as these in the energy sector will be required to push Iraq forward towards greater prosperity and stability. And as the UK’s Ambassador Michael Aron said this week:
“A combination of stability, economic development and the creation of a competitive private sector offer huge opportunities for international and Iraqi business. And it puts Iraq right back at the centre of the global economy it left 20 years ago …
“Ultimately, business will go where conditions are best.“
Few would argue with that.