Iraq's "Double Whammy" - Oil Output Lowest Since Invasion, Forced to Import
But aside from that and a few hundred thousand casualties, Iraq's a resounding success!
[Iraq's oil] exports have slipped to their lowest levels since the 2003 invasion.I wonder who they're buying over-priced oil products from???
* * *
Iraq, a founding member of OPEC, sits atop the world's third-highest proven reserves. Its estimated 115 billion barrels is more than any other OPEC member except for Saudi Arabia and Iran.
But contrary to optimistic expectations, Iraq's oil production has slipped further and further since the U.S.-led invasion, to an average of 2 million barrels a day. It has never regained even the reduced production levels that prevailed in the 1990s, when Iraq was under tough U.N. sanctions.
Iraq's oil could be providing relief to world markets, strained by high demand from China, the nuclear-related showdown with Iran and unrest near Nigeria's oil fields. Instead, it's not even covering its own needs.
The rickety Iraqi oil system has been damaged repeatedly by insurgent sabotage and attacks on maintenance crews. Corruption, theft of oil, and widespread mismanagement compound the problems, analysts say.
Iraq also lacks laws that would protect foreign investment, [Yeah, SURE! Bring on those beloved investors!] and its government is still sorting out whether oil will be controlled by the central government or the provinces.
The result: Iraq is importing refined oil products at record high prices at a time that it should be boosting exports to take advantage of those prices to earn money for reconstruction.
In 1990, probably its peak production year, Iraq extracted about 3.5 million barrels a day. Restoring production to that level would require years and a $30 billion investment, Orwel said, even in the "best case scenario."Oh, but Saddam was EVIL, I tell you! EVIL! And Halliburton is better off without him!
Those figures suggest misplaced optimism by Iraq's oil ministry, which in 2005 predicted crude production would reach 2.5 million or even 3 million barrels a day by the end of 2006. Analysts have called that prediction a pipe dream.
The outlook for this year looks about the same as 2005, Orwel said, casting doubt even on the ministry's revised plans to raise exports to 1.8 million barrels a day by year's end.
* * *
The loss of oil revenue to corruption and theft has become the biggest threat to Iraq's economy, costing Baghdad's beleaguered treasury billions of dollars, it said.
"For example, about 20 percent of the oil products that Iraq imported last year, worth $4.2 billion, were smuggled to neighboring countries," the report said.
Iraq's sputtering oil sector has defied optimists led by Vice President Dick Cheney and former Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, who hoped booming exports from Iraq could pay for its reconstruction and help satisfy world demand.
Instead, repercussions from the U.S.-led invasion are now slowing the global economy . . .
"The invasion of Iraq hasn't only been devastating to the Iraqi people, but it has been detrimental to the rest of the world," al-Fathi said from his home in Sharjah, in the UAE. "Iraq has lost a third of its production due to the American invasion."
"Now that Iraq has to import many petroleum products, it's a double whammy," he said.
Oil production was more successful under Saddam, he said. "There were technical problems. But they were contained. Things were improving slowly. We didn't have sabotage. We had full security in the oil fields."