Crude Diplomacy – Iraq, Iran, and the Politics of Oil

The Economist reports that Chinese oil companies are shifting their focus from Iran to Iraq, as Iraq attracts the latest technology to increase its oil production.

“Iraq will have to pull off an unprecedented feat. In the history of the modern oil industry, no country has increased output with the speed the Iraqis envisage. Over the next seven years Iraq intends to go from producing 2.5m barrels per day to 12m b/d, a target that exceeds Saudi Arabia’s current output by more than 30%.”

The scale of the challenge is huge, involving not just increased port and pipeline capacity, and “countless pumping stations”, but even the provision of paved roads.

As this oil starts to come on stream, the question of OPEC quotas will become an issue, but the Oil Minister “makes the plausible argument that Iraq under-produced for decades and deserves to catch up, but this has irritated the Saudis”.

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