Did Iraq Lie About Oil Reserves?

Two weeks ago Iraq revised its estimates of oil reserves upwards, and this was immediately followed by Iran doing the same.

Now Reuters reports that a former oil minister has cast doubt on the numbers and on the motivation of the governments in issuing the figures, saying that the estimates are politically motivated and not justified by the evidence.

Mr Issam Al Chalabi, who served as Iraqi oil minister in the government of Mr Saddam Hussein, said Iraq's announcement last week that its proven oil reserves were 25% higher was 'unreliable'. Unfortunately the announcement that was made last week has not been substantiated by proper evidence; he said that it is not a reliable figure. This is not the way to handle the reserves. I think it was made for political reasons.

According to BP data, Iraq raised its total estimate of proven oil reserves to 143 billion barrels making it the holder of the world's third largest reserves after Saudi Arabia and Venezuela.

Iraqi officials said that the figures had been inflated by new estimates for the West Qurna and Zubair oilfields. But Mr Chalabi, who was Iraqi oil minister from 1987 to 1990, questioned the motivation for the new estimate.

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