The Battle for Iraq’s Oil Contracts

Tuesday, November 17, 2009
Iraq Oil Ministry logo

The world’s largest oil companies are presently jockeying for the rights to Iraq’s petroleum reserves, coming closer to a huge payday made possible by the United States’ toppling of Saddam Hussein. Already, ExxonMobil is benefiting from the regime change after signing an oil production contract with the new government in Baghdad—the first of its kind for a U.S. oil company in 35 years.

While Big Oil representatives lobby the Iraqi parliament to pass new legislation (the Iraq Oil Law) granting favorable terms to foreign petroleum firms, company executives are forging alliances with one another to beat out rivals and claim access to massive oil fields.
For instance, ExxonMobil’s deal involves Royal Dutch Shell for the rights to drill in the West Qurna Phase 1 project (8.7 billion barrels of oil). The duo beat out Russia’s Lukoil and junior partner ConocoPhillips.
British Petroleum and Chinese National Petroleum Corp. (CNPC) have teamed up to win a contract from Baghdad for the country’s Rumaila field and its 17 billion barrels. California’s Occidental Petroleum has allied itself with Eni SpA of Italy and the Korea Gas Corp. to win the Zubair oil field contract (4.4 billion barrels). And Shell is partnering with CNPC and the Turkish Petroleum Corp. to possibly bid for the giant Kirkuk oil field, pending the outcome of Iraq’s elections in January.
Next month, 11 more groups of oil and gas fields will go on the block in Iraq. Among the prizes is the Majnoon field which has an estimated 30 billion barrels. More than 40 international companies, including Chevron and France’s Total, are expected to participate in the bidding.
-Noel Brinkerhoff
Did Big Oil Win the War in Iraq? (by Antonia Juhasz, AlterNet)
Iraq’ Oil: Ready at Last (by Noel Brinkerhoff and David Wallechinsky, AllGov)


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