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Iraq's Oil and Natural Gas Potential- The Next Saudi Arabia

Holzman, H. B.1
1 McCombs Energy/Hupecol, San Antonio, TX.

Iraq is one of the most hydrocarbon-rich countries in the world, and in the future it could become the leading producer of crude oil in the world. A thick sedimentary section of rocks, huge structures, high individual well productivity, and extensive oil and natural gas reserves are some of the main characteristics of Iraqi fields. The estimates of Iraq's potential oil reserves range from 150 to 270 billion barrels. My estimate (2004) of oil reserves in Iraq range from 230-250 billion barrels. The estimate for natural gas reserves range from 110 to well over 200 trillion cubic feet. My estimate (2004) of natural gas reserves range from 220-260 trillion cubic feet. To date, over 500 drillable prospects have been identified by various companies using old 2-D seismic. Only about 130 of these prospects have been drilled to date. These prospects are not like the small prospects that we are used to seeing in the United States. Most of them are over 5 kilometers in length. The success rate is almost 80% of all wildcats drilled. There are fewer than 3000 wells drilled in all of Iraq. Of the approximately 85 major fields discovered to date, only 24 are currently producing. Several of the nonproducing fields are classified as super-giant in size, each with over 12 billion barrels of proved reserves. Several potential basins, including the Gotnia (Jurassic), Western Desert (Paleozoic) and northern Iraq (Triassic) have hardly been explored. Undrilled structures and undeveloped, nonproducing fields could represent the largest untapped oil and natural gas reserves in the world. There are going to be great opportunities for both major and independent oil companies to become involved in both the development of current fields and in the exploration for new reserves in Iraq. Oil service companies will also be needed in Iraq, as most of the Iraqi oil and natural gas infrastructure is need of replacement or repair. There will also be a great need for up-to date seismic and gravity surveys, as most of Iraq has not been properly explored.


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