June 4, 2010
- A d v e r t i s e m e n t
Iraq has a dream: it wants to be bigger than Saudi Arabia. In seven years, Baghdad envisions itself overtaking its neighbor to the south as the world’s largest petroleum producer. That means Baghdad must ramp up output from the current 2.4 million barrels per day to more than 12.5 million. To do that, it is seeking billions in investment from foreign oil companies — among them BP, the British company fighting to contain an oil spill in another gulf halfway across the globe.
To help promote the cause, the U.S. government organized a field trip last week to the deserts of southern Iraq, where the landmines of 20th century wars are being cleared and massive modern rigs are being brought in. This is the region that produces 80% of the country’s oil. Major General Vincent Brooks, commander of U.S. forces in southern Iraq, towered over dozens of fellow visitors on a recent dusty morning in the Rumaila oil field in Iraq’s oil capital Basra province. With U.S. Ambassador Christopher Hill nearby, Brooks chatted up the president of Iraq operations for BP. In November BP signed a contract along with Chinese partners to develop the field. Rumaila was first drilled by BP a half century ago, but the company, along with other foreign oil companies, was kicked out in the 1970s when Iraq nationalized its oil sector.