Iraq hikes oil reserves estimate to 143 billion bbl

By OGJ editors
HOUSTON, Oct. 4
-- The Iraqi government has raised its estimate of the country’s oil reserves to 143 billion bbl from 115 billion bbl.

Citing work by international oil companies developing 12 oil fields, Oil Minister Hussain al-Shahristani made the announcement at a news conference in Baghdad.

He said the reserves estimate applies to 66 discovered oil fields.

Shahristani, in a nod to the importance of reserves estimates in the politics of production quotas among members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, said the exporters’ group eventually will need a new quota mechanism.

“We will not discuss the Iraqi quotas issue with OPEC now,” he said. “This case has been delayed.”

Iraq, which produces about 2.5 million b/d, is exempt from the OPEC quota system.

Shahristani said Iraqi reserves are distributed 71% in the southern part of the country, 20% in the north, and 9% in the center. Before the increase, he added, the reserves figure, which hadn’t been adjusted in many years, had drifted to 110 billion bbl through depletion.

With the adjustment, Iraq replaces Iran as the third-ranking country in reported oil reserves.

At the beginning of this year, Iran had reserves of 137.62 billion bbl (OGJ, Dec. 21, 2009, p. 18). Saudi Arabia had 259.9 billion bbl, and Canada had 175.2 billion bbl, most of it unconventional heavy oil and oil sands.

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