(AFP , BAGHDAD) – Iraq has the world’s largest oil reserves, Petroleum Minister Amer Rashid claimed in an interview published yesterday.
He did not give figures or mention Saudi Arabia which is generally estimated to have reserves of 261 billion barrels of crude compared to Iraq’s 100 billion barrels.
“We state that Iraq has enormous oil (production) capacity and reserves which put it in first place among the countries which hold the largest crude reserves in the world,” he told the financial weekly Al-Iqtissadi.
Rashid said the output from Iraq’s southern oil fields alone “is equivalent to that of an Opec member country and it increases day after day.”
Deputy Prime Minister Tareq Aziz has also stated this year that Iraq has the largest reserves in the world, and not the second largest as is widely accepted.
Iraq, a member of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (Opec), is producing nearly three million barrels of oil a day and has ambitions to boost output to six million bpd, but admits it needs to invest $30 billion in infrastructure to do so.
Baghdad has drawn up contracts, mainly with Russian and Chinese companies, to develop its oil fields, but work cannot begin until a UN embargo is lifted.
Iraq, under sanctions since it invaded Kuwait in 1990, has been allowed to export crude since December 1996 under the UN oil-for-food programme.