Iraq oil croppedAn U.S. Army soldier stands guard near a burning oil well in the Rumaylah Oil Fields in Southern Iraq April 2, 2003. | ARLO K. ABRAHAMSON/U.S. Navy News


By Sean Cockerham | McClatchy Newspapers

WASHINGTON — Ten years after the United States invaded and occupied Iraq, the country’s oil industry is poised to boom and make the troubled nation the No.2 oil exporter in the world. But the nation that’s moving to take advantage of Iraq’s riches isn’t the United States. It’s China.

America, with its own homegrown energy bonanza, isn’t going after the petroleum that lies beneath Iraq’s sands nearly as aggressively as is China, a country hungry to fuel its rise as an economic power.

Iraq remains highly unstable in terms of security, infrastructure and politics. Chinese state-owned oil companies appear more willing to put up with that than Americans are.

“The Chinese have a higher tolerance for risk,” said Gal Luft, a co-director of the Institute for the Analysis of Global Security, a Washington research center focused on energy.

The International Energy Agency expects China to become the main customer for Iraq’s vast oil reserves. Fatih Birol, the agency’s chief economist, recently declared “a new trade axis is being formed between Baghdad and Beijing.” Birol said that about 80 percent of Iraq’s future oil exports were expected to go to Asia, mainly to China.

Iraq’s potential for oil production is huge. The International Energy Agency predicts that Iraqi production will more than double in the next eight years and that the country will be by far the largest contributor to growth in the global oil supply over the next two decades. By the 2030s, the agency expects Iraq to become the second largest global oil exporter, overtaking Russia.

 

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China Will Soon Be Drilling A Third Of Iraq’s Oil

Rob Wile

iraq, oil fields

Muhanna Fala’ah / Getty

 

Ten years after the invasion of Baghdad, major American oil companies are staying away from investing in Iraq’s oil resources, McClatchy’s Sean Cockerham reports.

Instead, many of Iraq’s newest oil fields are now controlled by Chinese.

Iraq possesses the second-largest oil deposit in the world, in the West Qurna region. Forbes says the country could easily become the second-largest oil producer in the world after Saudi Arabia.

Only Exxon and Occidental have active stakes in Iraqi oil fields. The reason for America’s relative absence, Cockerham writes, is that the country is still too unstable.

 

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