Big Oil makes a comeback in Iraq

Add this news to the numerous reasons oil exploration and production are down on the Western Slope. From Slate.com’s The Big Money:

“A welcome-back party for Big Oil” is how the Wall Street Journal today sums up the Iraqi government plan to open up its oil fields to the highest bidders after three decades of tight control under Saddam Hussein. Starting next week, the Iraqi government will begin auctioning off contracts to foreign countries, opening up a market with 115 billion barrels in “proven reserves.” “If all goes according to plan in the first round, foreign oil companies will move in to help Iraq revive production at six developed fields that have suffered from years of war and neglect,” the newspaper writes.

According to Reuters, Iraq has the third-largest oil reserves in the world and pumps out of the ground about 2.4 million barrels per day, well below the volumes seen before the 2003 U.S.-led invasion. “Oil Minister Hussain al-Shahristani is betting the contracts awarded on June 29-30, and a second round of tenders at year’s end, will provide the cash and expertise needed to reverse the damage done to Iraq’s oil infrastructure by decades of isolation, underinvestment and war,” Reuters writes.

There are 32 companies angling for the contracts. They include Exxon Mobil (XOM), Royal Dutch Shell, Total, and BP, Reuters and the WSJ write.

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