It just may be that Iraq is in the process of returning to normal in both military and energy terms. I'll leave the military part to your evening television viewing. On the energy side, however, the ink is still wet on a $3 billion agreement for the Chinese state-owned oil company, China National Petroleum, to help develop the Ahdab oil field, south of Baghdad.

The Chinese company -- parent of (among others) PetroChina (NYSE:PTR) -- would be resuming a deal first signed with the government of Saddam Hussein more than a decade ago. It was a pact with a 22-year duration that was worth $1.2 billion when it was signed. The Ahdab field is located in Wasit province, a Shiite-dominated area about 100 miles from the capital.

Iraq's energy deposits are said to include about 115 billion barrels of oil. The original concession in the country was made in 1925 with the Iraq Petroleum Company, which was owned by predecessors of what are now BP (NYSE:BP), Royal Dutch Shell (NYSE:RDS-A) (NYSE:RDS-B), Exxon, and Mobil, the last two of which eventually formed -- you guessed it -- ExxonMobil (NYSE:XOM). Iraq's energy assets were nationalized in 1972. Before the war, the country produced about 2.5 million barrels of oil a day, a rate that declined to less than 2.0 million barrels in the middle of the war. It has now returned close to its earlier level.

During the war, there have been concerted efforts, mostly led by the Army Corps of Engineers and Houston-based KBR (NYSE:KBR) -- until recently part of Halliburton (NYSE:HAL) -- to upgrade what frequently was often three-decades-old Russian equipment in the nation's oil fields.

Now that the contract has been signed with China National Petroleum -- it's yet to be approved by both governments -- you'll likely see a push by numerous other companies to resume deals they say they signed with Saddam and his minions. However, the Iraqi oil ministry claims it won't show partiality to companies with pre-war contracts.

For a good way to play a movement to improve Iraq's daily oil output to about 4.5 million barrels a day in the next five years, I'd offer up KBR. Despite the unabated criticism of it at home, it's a professional operation that already has several toes in the Iraqi oil fields water.

For three energy stocks Motley Fool analysts believe will profit from "The Next American Oil Boom," check out our brand-new free report. You'll get the stock ideas from top analysts, plus some straight talk on our oil "crisis." Click here for access -- it's free!

Fool contributor David Lee Smith doesn't own shares in any of the companies mentioned. He does, however, welcome your questions or comments. The Fool has a disclosure policy.