The top story in today's Chron is this interview with Philip Carroll, the senior American oil official in Iraq. It's pretty upbeat, as you would expect from a man in his position, but it demonstrates that we have only just begun to spend billions of dollars over there:
Carroll suggested that any recovery by Iraq's oil industry would take place over the long term and would require billions of dollars in foreign investment.
"Iraq's present capability, as close as I can assess it, is to produce right at or maybe a little less than 3 million," barrels per day, he said. "They are not going to be able to go above that much without significant investment."
Of that amount, he said, about 2.5 million barrels per day would be available for export.
Carroll said it is realistic to foresee a day in "a minimum of six or seven years" when, fueled by as much as $40 billion to $50 billion in additional foreign investment, Iraq could become an oil colossus exporting as much as 6 million barrels a day. Iraq's proved oil reserves are estimated at 112.5 billion barrels, second in the Middle East only to Saudi Arabia's 259 billion barrels.
"That would provide them with very large export earnings and the ability for their economy to grow rather attractively," Carroll said. "They are not going to get there in 2004 and they are not going to get there in 2005. It is going to require tens of billions to fully develop that kind of capacity."