News / Middle East

Mideast Wary Over Iraq-Iran Plan to Unite in Oil Market

Mideast Is Wary Over Iraq, Iran Plan to Unite in Oil Marketi
X
February 05, 2014 9:03 PM
Iraq is planning to triple its oil producing capacity by 2020, hoping to leverage its natural resources in a power arrangement with Iran that could challenge Saudi Arabia’s domination of the world oil market. VOA's Jeff Seldin reports.
Iraq is planning to triple its oil-producing capacity by 2020, hoping to leverage its natural resources in a power arrangement with Iran that could challenge Saudi Arabia’s domination of the world oil market.
 
So far, most of the talk has come from Iraqi officials who have been expressing confidence the country can again become a major regional player despite an upsurge in violence that killed 1,000 people last month, and nearly 9,000 last year.

In London last week, Iraq's Deputy Prime Minister for Energy Hussain al-Shahristani announced that Iraq plans to triple its oil output to nine million barrels per day by the end of the decade. And he hinted that is just part of Iraq’s plans.

"Iran has been in touch with us," al-Shahristani told the London Telegraph. "They want to share our contracts model and experience."

OPEC control

Oil industry and Middle East experts believe the comments were meant to send a message to OPEC [Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries], which oversees about 70 percent of the world’s proven oil reserves and about 40 percent of the total world oil supply .

“The game here is for control of the OPEC cartel,” said Simon Henderson at the Washington Institute for near East Policy. “Baghdad and Tehran get on very well together and they are vying against Saudi Arabia, which is the other major power in the Gulf. The energy side of it is that oil and gas is the main component, the main weapon which these countries can use against each other.”

Officials with OPEC have downplayed the impact of increased production from Iraq and Iran, which is hoping to use progress in nuclear talks with world powers to get sanctions lifted on its oil industry.

Long-time dominant OPEC member Saudi Arabia is not yet likely to be rattled.

“The Saudis are very experienced in oil policy, and usually from their own point of view, call it right,” said Henderson. “They are not embarrassed by anybody else’s antics in the oil market.”  

Saudi concern

The math is worrying for the Saudis, however, according to some analysts.

The latest data from the United States Energy Information Administration shows that Saudi Arabia has a proven oil reserve of about 267 billion barrels, far ahead of Iran’s 151 billion barrels worth of reserves and Iraq’s 143 billion barrels of proven reserves. But combined, Iran and Iraq would have the capacity to possibly shift the balance of power.

It is cause for concern, given the Saudis and the Iranians have already been facing off in a proxy war in Syria -- Saudi Arabia helping to arm rebels groups while Iran has backed the Syrian regime, helping keep it in power.

"The cooperation between Iran and Iraq is more than just oil because both governments are Shi'ite-dominated governments, and they share some strategic interests,” said Nader Habibi at at Brandeis University's Crown Center for Middle East Studies.

“Obviously, Saudi Arabia and the other Sunni governments are concerned. We have seen that the uprising in Syria has not been successful now and Iran and its allies have been able to support the Assad regime," said Habibi. "So I am sure other countries in the region are closely watching the level of cooperation between Iran and Iraq.”

For now, though, experts like Habibi expect Iran to keep the focus on oil.

"Especially because Iran has economic problems and the government is more focused on trying to resolve those issues and improve the economic conditions,” he said. “And that requires a more moderate foreign policy."

Iran's leaders have said little publicly so far about cooperating with Iraq on oil. International sanctions have taken a toll on Iran’s production, which the U.S. says has fallen to about 1 million barrels per day.

Iran's ambitions

Iranian officials have reached out to Russia about potential oil deals, and have expressed hopes that if sanctions are lifted, they could ramp up production to as much as four million barrels per day.  

Iraq’s comments about working with Tehran, however, have gotten notice in Washington, which has been supportive of Iraq’s desire to boost oil output.

"As we've made very clear, not just to Iraq, but to any country in the global community as a matter of policy, engaging with Iran's energy sector runs risks including violating and running afoul of U.S. and international sanctions," said U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki.

Oil industry experts say while Iraq can certainly boost oil production, it is far from certain Baghdad can triple its output by 2020.

The Washington Institute’s Henderson also cautioned that for all the noise, Iraq and Iran will want to be careful about just how far they push Saudi Arabia and other OPEC members by boosting production.

“The big question is, to what extent, will countries like Iraq, be able to maintain some sort of leverage on the price of oil so that the price doesn’t plummet and all their efforts to produce a greater amount of oil lead to roughly the same revenues or frankly even less revenue,” he said.

Jeff Seldin

Jeff works out of VOA’s Washington headquarters covering a wide variety of subjects, from the nature of the growing terror threat in Northern Africa to China’s crackdown on Tibet and the struggle over immigration reform in the United States. You can follow Jeff on Twitter at @jseldin or on Google Plus.

You May Like

Video Anti-Muslim Sponsor of Texas Cartoon Contest Draws Ire

Pamela Geller's supporters say she speaks truth about sensitive topic, while critics say she preaches 'that Islam is inherently evil' More

East Meets West in Exhibition Showing Chinese Influence on Fashion

Metropolitan Museum of Art exhibition juxtaposes influence of art, imagery and culture, from Imperial China to the present day, on Western fashion and design More

South Africa Begins New Love Affair With Vinyl Records

Enthusiasts say the 'rebirth' of vinyl is resulting in a rebirth of music in South Africa More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Bakhtiar from: Iraq
February 08, 2014 11:17 AM
Throughout Iraq history oil is a major curse this saying has been a message of some political analysts . But i believe denying the Kurdish legitimate cause for practicing their right of self-determination is major factor of instability the region. What Mr.Jeff referred to in the article , is on the one hand gulf states wants to keep the balance of power in the region for their interest, on the other hand they want to use oil revenue in keeping status quo in the interest of dominant ethnicity .

by: MikeBarnett from: USA
February 05, 2014 3:19 PM
This deal would benefit the US, EU, China, Japan, and all other oil consumers by reducing oil prices significantly below $100 per barrel. However, there is a Sunni-Shia civil war in Iraq, and the US has sanctions on Iran over WMDs that don't and won't exist to make Israel and its US supporters happy. Therefore, the deal probably won't work as planned, so Russia will continue to develop the world's biggest oil and gas station in Siberia to serve China's growing industrial, commercial, and military needs.
In Response

by: Nafji Fatina from: USA
March 03, 2014 4:53 PM
After WWII tag of war still going on with Two superpowers , now other power is on broad. Same thing happen when WWII started when third power (Germany) came in power . Shia-Sunni, protestant - catholic are the source of colonialism, but super power don't like third power , they will still divide the world into east west north south population of world will suffer and super power will enjoy the chess game.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Mass Grave Exposes Entrenched Trafficking in Thailandi
X
May 05, 2015 5:50 PM
Police in southern Thailand have found two more camps believed to have held human trafficking victims -- one containing a buried skeleton. This comes just days after officials announced arrests in connection with the grisly discovery of 26 bodies in a mass grave at another location. Officials suspect as many as 400 mostly ethnic Rohingya from Myanmar were being held for ransom at the remote camp near the Malaysian border. Steve Sandford reports on developments in the case.
Video

Video Mass Grave Exposes Entrenched Trafficking in Thailand

Police in southern Thailand have found two more camps believed to have held human trafficking victims -- one containing a buried skeleton. This comes just days after officials announced arrests in connection with the grisly discovery of 26 bodies in a mass grave at another location. Officials suspect as many as 400 mostly ethnic Rohingya from Myanmar were being held for ransom at the remote camp near the Malaysian border. Steve Sandford reports on developments in the case.
Video

Video Russia's 'Victory Day' Glory Over Nazis Overshadowed by Ukraine

ussia is preparing to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II, known since the Soviet era as “The Great Patriotic War,” with a massive parade on May 9th of military hardware and millions of medals handed out to veterans or their relatives. But critics say the Soviet-style display of power and nationalism overshadows tragic scars during and after the war that still influence politics and foreign policy, especially in the current Ukraine crisis.
Video

Video WWII Anniversary Brings Old Friends and New Worries

The 70th anniversary of the end of World War II has special significance, with Russia becoming more assertive in Ukraine and sending its military planes to the edges of western countries’ airspace. Changes in the geostrategic balance and the transatlantic relationship are felt across the continent, not least in German towns that have hosted U.S. military bases since the defeat of Nazi Germany. VOA’s Al Pessin visited Schweinfurt, Germany, where a large base closed last year.
Video

Video Abraham Lincoln Funeral Re-created for 150th Civil War Anniversary

Over the last four years, commemorative events to mark the 150th anniversary of the U.S. Civil War have brought thousands of visitors to battlefields and historic landmarks across the country. As VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports from the Midwest state of Illinois, the final event in the Civil War's sesquicentennial honors the final journey home of the slain American President, Abraham Lincoln.
Video

Video Campaign Raises Money to 'Uncuff' Journalists

Beginning Sunday – World Press Freedom Day – the Committee to Protect Journalists, a private U.S. group, is launching a campaign to bring attention to their plight and encourage efforts to free them. Deborah Block reports.
Video

Video Volunteers Pull Together to Aid Baltimore Riot Victims

Calm has returned to Baltimore, Maryland, after authorities lifted an overnight curfew imposed almost a week ago to stem the rioting that followed the funeral of Freddie Gray - the 25-year-old black man who died of spinal injuries suffered while in police custody. Six police officers, three of them African-American, have been charged in connection with his death. Baltimore is now trying to get back to normal, in part with the help of volunteers who responded to calls to help those in the city'
Video

Video From Aleppo To Berlin: Band of Brothers Escapes Civil War

Hundreds of thousands of Syrians have fled the civil war in their country and journeyed to Europe by boat across the Mediterranean. It is a terrifying ordeal with dangers at every turn. A group of Syrian brothers and their friends describe their ordeal as they try to reach Germany. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports. ...
Video

Video Rural Nepal Suffers Brunt of Quake’s Devastation

Nepal is still coming to grips with the full extent of the devastation and misery caused by last Saturday’s magnitude 7.8 earthquake. Some of the hardest-hit communities have been cut off by landslides making it difficult to assess the precise toll. A VOA News crew has been among the first to reach a few of the smaller, remote communities. Correspondent Steve Herman reports from the Sindhupolchak district, east of Kathmandu, which suffered greatly in Nepal’s worst quake in more than 80 years.
Video

Video Obama Praises Work of 3 Immigrant Journalists

President Barack Obama met with three immigrant journalists at the White House Friday to praise them for their work ahead of World Press Freedom Day, May 3. In attendance: Dieu Cay (his pen name) a blogger from Vietnam recently released from prison; Lily Mengesha from Ethiopia who was harassed and detained for exposing the marrying off of young girls as child brides, and Fatima Tlisova, an ethnic Circassian from the North Caucasus region of Russia, who works for VOA's Russian Service.
Video

Video Middle East Atheist Channel Defies Taboo

In Egypt, a deeply religious country in a deeply religious region, atheism is not only taboo, it is dangerous. It is sometimes even criminal to publicly declare nonbelief. Despite the danger, one group of activists is pushing back with a new online channel that defends the right not to believe. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Nepal Quake Survivors Tell Their Stories

Against all hope, rescuers have found a few more survivors of the devastating earthquake that hit Nepal last Saturday. Mountain climbers and hikers trapped in remote places also have been airlifted to safety, and aid is finally reaching people in the areas closest to the quake's epicenter. Survivors and rescuers are now recounting their experience. Zlatica Hoke has this story.
Video

Video Lessons for Germany, Europe Remain on Anniversary of WWII's End

The 70th anniversary of the end of World War II will be marked May 8-9 in all European countries except Germany, which lost the war. How is the war viewed there, and what impact is it still having? From Berlin, VOA’s Al Pessin reports.
Video

Video Nepal Town Destroyed By Quake Counts Itself Lucky

Foreign search teams on Wednesday began reaching some of the communities outside Kathmandu that suffered worse damage than Nepal’s capital from last Saturday’s massive earthquake. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman is in Sankhu - a town of about 10,000 people - where there is relief the death toll is not higher despite widespread destruction.
Video

Video Somali Hotel Chain Owner Strives to Make a Difference

Many in the Somali diaspora are returning home to make a new life despite the continuing risks. Since 2011 when a military campaign against Al-Shabab militants began making progress, members of the diaspora community have come back to open hospitals, schools, hotels, restaurants and other businesses. Abdulaziz Billow in Mogadishu profiles the owner of a chain of hotels and restaurants who is helping to bring change to the once-deadly Somali capital.
Video

Video Child Migrants Cross Mediterranean Alone, Face Unknown Future

Among the thousands of migrants making the deadly journey by boat to Europe, there are unaccompanied girls and boys. Some have been sent by relatives to earn money; others are orphaned or fleeing war. From a shelter for young migrants in the Sicilian town of Caltagirone, VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.

Poll: Baltimore Police Charged

Poll archive

VOA Blogs