RedState by Marita Noon - While we weren't paying attention, post-war Iraq grew into a major force in the global oil market. Reaching a 30-year high, its production and exports have climbed steadily since 2011—making Iraq the second largest producer in OPEC, the seventh globally. The International Energy Agency (EIA) has forecast that Iraq has the fifth-largest proven oil reserves.
Just one year ago, Iraq was celebrating its increased production. At a ceremony in Baghdad, Thamir Gladhban, Chairman of the Prime Minister’s Advisory Commission on Energy, touted expected production of 4.5 million barrels per day by the end of 2014. Earlier this year it was announced that “thanks to a small group of international oil companies developing oil fields and infrastructure,” Iraqi oil exports “shot up.” Iraq’s deputy Prime Minister for energy, Hussain Al-Shahristani, reported that average production, including exports, exceeded 3.5 million barrels per day—which he called “unprecedented.”
Iraq’s newfound ability came just in time. Last week, the EIA predicted that global oil demand will rise from 91.4 million barrels per day in 2014’s first quarter to 94 million during the last 3 quarters. Iraq has been able fill in the production gaps caused by violence in Libya and sanctions in Iran. Crude oil prices have been stable. Rebecca Patterson, chief investment officer at Bessemer Trust in New York, said: Iraq “is more important for the oil market than it has been for some time.”
The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) states: “crude volatility recently had ground down to multi-year lows.”
But that low volatility level was before rapid gains by extremist insurgents in northern Iraq put all that progress in jeopardy, raised gasoline prices, and sent “shudders through financial markets.” A barrel of oil is now trading at its highest level since September. WSJ calls the increase “an unwelcome development for the U.S. and other major economies struggling with tepid growth.” Read full column