Launch of new licensing round

Iraq hopes oil reserves will exceed 160bn barrels

BAGHDAD – Iraq, one of the world’s biggest oil producers, aims to boost its crude reserves to more than 160 billion barrels, Oil Minister Hayan Abdel Ghani said on Saturday.

The minister’s comment came during the launch of new licensing rounds for 29 oil and gas fields.

According to the World Bank, Iraq has 145 billion barrels of proven oil reserves amounting to 96 years’ worth of production at the current rate. These are among the largest crude reserves in the world.

“The ministry has put forward 29 promising projects today”, Abdel Ghani said during the opening of the new bidding process that will last three days.

“We hope to announce an increase of Iraq’s proven oil reserves to more than 160 billion barrels”, he added.

Iraq has completed five licensing rounds since 2008.

Abdel Ghani said the government will support and assist the winning companies.

The new rounds include fields and exploration blocs in 12 provinces and an offshore bloc — the first to be explored in Iraqi territorial waters in the Gulf.

Iraq also hopes the blocs will lead to increased natural gas production to help reduce dependence on imports from Iran, a crucial supplier for Iraqi power generation.

Iraq, trying to move past decades of war and prior sanctions that led to underinvestment, was left dependent on imports from its eastern neighbour for a third of its gas needs.

“Iraq anticipates deriving more than 3,459 million standard cubic feet of gas per day (98 million cubic metres) and over one million barrels of oil per day from these licensing rounds,” according to a statement by the prime minister’s media office.

Iraq’s electricity minister said in 2022 that his country had reached a deal with Iran to provide 50 million cubic metres of gas per day in summer, and more than 10 million cubic metres per day in winter.

Crude oil sales make up 90 percent of the Iraqi budget’s revenues.

Iraq is a founding member of the OPEC cartel, which in March reported Iraqi crude output at more than 3.9 million barrels per day.