Published online by Cambridge University Press: 07 December 2009
From all indications, Iraq's proven oil reserves are in the 115 billion barrel (bbl) range, which, depending upon how one runs the numbers, would rank it as having somewhere between the second and the third largest proven reserves in the world. It is also speculated that Iraq may possess an additional 45 to 100 bbl in its largely unexplored western desert. As far as natural gas reserves are concerned, information suggests Iraq has proven reserves of around 112 trillion cubic feet (Tcf), placing its proven reserves at tenth in the world, with probable additional gas reserves at 275 to 300 Tcf. As will be seen in the materials that follow, Iraq has been capable in the past of producing as much as 3 million to 3.5 million barrels of oil per day (mbpd), but most recently has struggled to produce in the 2 to 2+ mbpd range, though it plans to increase that number in the near future. Its domestic consumption of crude oil demands about one quarter of its recent production, and an extremely large portion of the natural gas produced in Iraq is associated with the lifting of crude oil and simply winds up being flared or reinjected to assist oil recovery.