The world's Big Oil companies are ready to get down to the business of substantially boosting Iraq's oil production during the next several years.
The winners of two bidding sessions conducted last year by Iraq were given the right to lead efforts to increase production in huge fields that had declined, either through neglect or the ravages of war. Surprisingly, the first session yielded only one production agreement -- to a consortium led by BP
It therefore seems only fitting that BP has taken the lead in preparing to work in the country. On Tuesday, the company let $500 million in contracts for the drilling of wells in the Rumaila field. Unless there are problems, this should lead to years -- or perhaps decades -- of work in Iraq for many of the Big Oil companies.
Politics could, however, get in the way of BP and its peers, which include ExxonMobil
During the recent campaigning in Iraq, Ayad Allawi -- who has emerged as the disputed winner of the race to be prime minister -- had criticized the contracts that had been let under Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, saying that they should either be scuttled or reviewed. In addition to politics, there remain concerns among people including Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson about guaranteeing security for those working in the country. Also, there are those who worry that a failed effort to raise Iraq's production could result in insufficient oil supplies for the expanding needs of the developing nation.
Among the new contracts let by BP were a pact with Weatherford International