Iraq and Iran plot oil revolution in challenge to Saudi Arabia

Iraq’s goal of pumping 9m barrels a day of crude could be a game changer for oil prices and British companies

Iraq is poised to flood the oil market by tripling its capacity to pump crude by 2020 and is collaborating with Iran on strategy in a move that will challenge Saudi Arabia’s grip on the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries.

“We feel the world needs to be assured of fuel for economic growth,” Hussain al-Shahristani, Deputy Prime Minister for Energy in Iraq told oil industry delegates attending a Chatham House Middle East energy conference.

Al Shahristani said on Tuesday that Iraq plans to boost its capacity to produce oil to 9m barrels a day (bpd) by the end of the decade as Baghdad rushes to bolster its economy, which is still shattered by war and internal conflict. Iraq was producing 3m bpd in December, according to the International Energy Agency.

Iraq’s intention to challenge Saudi Arabia’s status as the “swing producer” in the OPEC cartel could see a dramatic fall in oil prices if Baghdad decides to break the group’s quotas and sell more of its crude on the open market.

Iraq’s ambitious plan could see it clash increasingly with the regime in Saudi Arabia, which has used its influence in OPEC over the last decade to keep oil prices above $100 a barrel. Saudi itself is now under pressure to boost output to maintain market share. The kingdom pumped 9.8m bpd in December up by about 100,000 barrels from the previous month.

Experts say that attention within OPEC, which pumps 30pc of the world’s crude, could increasingly focus on compliance with more of the group’s members tempted to pump more barrels to protect their share of the market as the cartel grapples with the rise of US shale oil production.

In a further challenge to Saudi Arabia, which is mostly closed to international oil companies, Mr al-Shahristani revealed that Baghdad is working with Iran to help it attract investment ahead of the possible lifting of sanctions. Oil companies are understood to be queuing up to win Iranian oil deals.

“Iran has been in touch with us,” said Mr al-Shahristani. “They want to share our contracts model and experience.”

Full article: Iraq and Iran plot oil revolution in challenge to Saudi Arabia (The Telegraph)

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