Iraq may be seeking to accelerate crude production, but the outlook for concluding any agreements to develop the country's oil and gas resources remains exceptionally murky. Earlier this month, the oil ministry of Iraq asked international oil companies to revise proposals for short-term deals to raise output from Iraq's six biggest producing oil fields, shortening the contracts to between 12 and 18 months from the two years previously stipulated. But there is no guarantee that Western oil companies involved in the negotiations will be amenable to the new terms.
"Shortening the duration is better for Iraq, if it can be done," said Muhammad Ali Zainy, the senior energy economist at the Centre for Global Energy Studies. "This could really give Iraq's production capacity a good push upwards. It would be a good shot in the arm." The deals being negotiated by Royal Dutch Shell, Shell in partnership with BHP Billiton, Exxon Mobil, Chevron in partnership with Total, and a consortium of Vitol, Dome and Anadarko, are for technical service contracts worth about US$3 billion (Dh11bn) in total. Under the new Iraqi proposal, the projects would aim to boost crude output by about 100,000 barrels per day (bpd) from each field, for a total of 600,000 bpd.