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Iraq: Current Status and Future Potential Outlook

Haggas, Sarah 1; Fryklund, Bob 1; Lewis, Stuart 1
1 IHS Energy, Englewood, CO.

With 115 Billion barrels of proven reserves, 100 Billion barrels of undiscovered potential, and some 535 known structures (with only 88 drilled), Iraq’s potential is largely unmatched. Yet the country’s production is approximately 2.4 MMb/d, much less than its peers. An analysis of future potential suggests that production could double or triple in the next five to seven years, solely based on the current reserve base.

Additional potential exists, within whole provinces such as the Western Desert and Northern Zagros, which are relatively unexplored. The Western Desert has only one gas condensate discovery, Akkas; and only a handful of wells in addition to sparse seismic. Recent work in the region suggests hydrocarbon potential exists in the Lower Palaeozoic; and further east, both above and below the Gotnia salt.

The country’s first licensing round was opened to pre-qualified companies in October 2008. The technical service contracts (TSC), which are all for currently producing fields, are to run for twenty years and are expected to be awarded in mid-2009. At the time of writing, a second licensing round was expected to be issued by year-end, again for currently producing fields. In addition, several legacy contracts have been, or are being, re-negotiated as TSCs. In contrast, the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) has issued several production sharing agreements within the Kurdistan Region, although the validity of these contracts is strongly disputed by the Federal Government.

Unlocking Iraq’s potential will require the resolution of a variety of above ground issues and challenges which vary from region to region. In the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, the overriding issue is the ability to export which is inextricably linked with the debate over contract validity. In the south and central portions of Iraq, the main issues are those of security, rehabilitation of neglected and damaged infrastructure, and uncertainty with regards to the type of contract to be issued.

 

AAPG Search and Discovery Article #90090©2009 AAPG Annual Convention and Exhibition, Denver, Colorado, June 7-10, 2009