Monday, February 8, 2010

Oil Companies May Book Iraq Reserves

There's a very interesting story leading the new Iraq Oil Report. Unfortunately, it's behind a paywall (though you can get a three week free trial). However, the story is interesting enough I'm going to mention it anyway. The gist is that the major oil companies with contracts in Iraq are planning to book the reserves:


This is pretty significant - both in terms of understanding the incentives of the IOCs, but also in that we are likely to get a far better level of transparency as to the oil reserves in Iraq if this occurs.

The rest of the issue is pretty fascinating stuff too, if you care about the whole Iraq oil issue (and if you care about peak-oil timing, you ought to).  If they keep up this level of reporting, I'm afraid I'm going to have to break down and cough up the dough for a subscription.


Stuki said...

You should see if you would qualify as a nonprofit. Those single user rates look geared towards people hoping to profit from the material, not general interest readers.

Strategic News International, operating out of a PO box in Mattawan, MI, out of all places, seems to be the parent company. For conspiracy buffs, Mattawan is a small town located in pretty much prime Prince family (Of Blackwater fame) upland. Not the most immediately obvious place to expect a newsletter covering the emerging Iraqi oil industry to be located........ But then again, perhaps it is... :)

Anyway, if you do end up subscribing at the full rate, consider asking for donations to help out with the subscription cost.

james said...

I read a really interesting article in Asia Times Online today about the Iraq Oil Issue:

It is definitely an alternative point of view - verging on being too iconoclastic for even my tastes. Yet, it has a lot of interesting assertions about why the International Oil companies have faced problems in Iraq so far and why (the author predicts) they will continue to do so.

An excerpt:
"Contracts for infrastructure repair or renewal were often botched or left incomplete, as international companies ripped out usable or repairable facilities that involved technology alien to them, only to install ultimately incompatible equipment. In one instance, a US$5 million pipeline repair became an $80 million "modernization" project that foundered on intractable engineering issues and, three years later, was left incomplete."

Manolo said...

@James: thank's for the Asia Times article, It does confirm what I heard regarding the "on the ground situation" over there. I am afraid that the "alternative point of view" is very much what most people in Iraq believe is reality. Add to this all the extreme antagonisms between religious and ethnic groups and you get what I said in a previous post: One Big Mess. This will need A LOT Of Time to get resolved. Forced optimism is a bad adviser for this situation.

Stuart Staniford said...

James - thanks for the link. I did see the Schwarz piece. I would make just two points: 1) Iraq is more stable now than it was then. 2) There's a huge difference in incentives between a contractor working on cost plus for the US govt, and an oil company that's only going to get paid if oil is produced. I expect the difference in incentives will translate into a significant difference in results.

Not to say there aren't a lot of risks in those projects - there certainly are. But whatever else you might accuse them of, the big oil companies are pretty competent when it comes to executing oil projects, and manage to get quite a bit of oil out of some pretty dangerous places.

Manolo said...

Stuart,first, I really do highly appreciate your work. And I am highly aware of the imminence of a possible "Shark fin" event in worldwide oil delivery (will qualify for a "black swan" to economists). However, if you consider for example what is happening in Nigeria, a hell of a hot place with big oil presence, the least you can say is that nothing, absolutely nothing goes really to plan, and big dropouts are right now happening. I am so not convinced that Iraq will change the outcome in the short run!
But granted, I see no replacement anywhere...