Stick in a thumb, pull out a plumb
Well, it's good to see the mainstream media is finally noticing just how much oil may be buried under Iraqi sand. The Financial Times notes that "the most comprehensive independent study" of Iraq's oil wealth indicates that there may be as much as 100 billion bbls of oil under the western deserts of al Anbar province, effectively doubling Iraq stated reserves.
Iraq could hold almost twice as much oil in its reserves as had been thought, according to the most comprehensive independent study of its resources since the US-led invasion in 2003.The potential presence of a further 100bn barrels in the western desert highlights the opportunity for Iraq to be one of the world’s biggest oil suppliers, and its attractions for international oil companies – if the conflict in the country can be resolved.Oil executives are salivating at this prospect and have been for sometime. As IHS consultant Ron Mobed notes:
Obviously the security situation is very bad, but when you look at the sub-surface opportunity, there isn’t anywhere else like this. Geologically, it’s right up there, a gold star opportunity.But this is not news. The potential of Iraq's Western Desert was reported on at least as far back as 2004 and this huge potential was surely known or suspected by the oil industry for sometime. Arom Roston discussed the Western Desert potential more than three years ago, when oil companies were already anxious to move in:
[Iraqi Oil Ministry executive] Ali Hammadi says many of the shoppers in this international oil bazaar were interested in a vast region known only as the "Western Desert"--inhabited by nomadic tribesman and virtually unexplored. The Western Desert is what one international oil consultant, his voice mockingly falling to a worshipful murmur, called the "Holy Grail" of the oil industry.And cheap? Oh, yeah:
Iraqi oil is miraculously cheap to pump out of the ground, costing about a dollar a barrel. Iraqis in general seem to have a touch of pride about their oil. "It comes up to the ground," one man told me, smiling. "I've seen it seeping up." Another one laughed one day: "You put a pipe in the ground and oil comes out."Back then, though, the Iraqi Oil Law was a pipe dream, or a pipeline dream if you prefer the obvious riff. Today, the Oil Law is on the verge of enactment, having already been agreed to by Maliki's cabinet. Whether al Sadr's withdrawal of his ministers will have an impact on the prospects for the Oil Law remains to be seen. The Iraqi Parliament is expected to be far more resistant to the thought of having Western oil interests oversee the distribution of oil contracts. More than a few Iraqis are well aware of what is in store with this Oil Law.
It's good to see that a mainstream publication is finally waking up to this story. Of course, they will doubtless continue to insist that the Oil Law is going to be great for Iraqis. And we can believe that, probably will believe it, because if we don't then the whole charade insists on the collapse of the "fighting evil doers" myth.
And we can't have that.