Iraq’s Oil Fields

Iraq’s proven reserves are approximately 115 billion barrels, the third largest in the world. Proven reserves are found in 80 fields, of which only 18 have been developed significantly. There are 18 named oil fields in the country. These include the Rumaila fields in the south (Basrah), which have reserves of 15 billion barrels; the Kirkuk fields in the north (11 billion barrels of reserves) and East Baghdad (18 billion barrels of reserves). Rumaila and Kirkuk jointly produced 72% of Iraqi oil in 2004.

Iraq’s Pipeline Network

Iraq has an extensive, 4,350 mile-long pipeline infrastructure that is critical for exports of oil and, to a lesser extent, gas. Three primary arteries link to Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Syria, and a fourth runs internally, called the strategic line.


Iraqi refineries, with a total capacity of almost 600,000 bbl/d, have antiquated infrastructure, and their output does not reflect the current demand mix. Despite improvements in recent years, the sector has not been able to meet domestic demand for most refined products, and the refineries produce too much heavy fuel oil. As a result, Iraq relies on imports for about one fourth of the petroleum products it uses, with total petroleum product consumption averaging about 600,000 bbl/d in 2008.

Natural Gas

According to the Oil and Gas Journal, Iraq’s proven natural gas reserves are 112 trillion cubic feet (Tcf). An estimated 70 percent of these lie in Basra governorate in the south of Iraq. Probable Iraqi reserves have been estimated at 275-300 Tcf, and work is currently underway by several IOCs and independents to accurately update hydrocarbon reserve numbers. Iraq’s proven gas reserves are the tenth largest in the world, and two-thirds of resources are associated with oil fields including, Kirkuk, as well as the southern Nahr (Bin) Umar, Majnoon, Halfaya, Nassiriya, the Rumaila fields, West Qurna, and Zubair. Just fewer than 20 percent of known gas reserves are non-associated; around 10 percent is salt “dome” gas. The majority of non-associated reserves are concentrated in several fields in the North including: Ajil, Bai Hassan, Jambur, Chemchemal, Kor Mor, Khashem al-Ahmar, and al-Mansuriyah.

Northern Iraq

Disagreements between central Baghdad and Erbil remain controversial to this date.  However, with first oil import from the region and the US forces moving out of the country; it seems that there will be a new page for North Iraq’s future. There are number of oil companies operating in the region due to signed contracts with Erbil. There is also potential and need for many more.

Bottom line is that the region and the country as a whole need significant investments to catch up with growing oil and gas demand. Both governments do not have the necessary financial strength; therefore, they need the private sector involvement. And private sector needs them to access to huge oil and gas reserves.

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