In a move to improve communication, the International Association of Geophysical Contractors (IAGC) held its first forum at the Society of Exploration Geophysicists (SEG) annual convention in Dallas. The IAGC sees acreage access as a key issue facing the geophysical contract services industry. If contractors do not have access to acreage, land or sea, then they cannot explore new areas with hydrocarbon potential or re-explore older productive areas.
Dr. Fadhil Chalabi, executive director for the Center for Global Energy Studies (CGES), provided insight into Iraq's oil potential and charted a possible future course for its development. Iraq's oil reserves are one of the least known in the Middle East due to its spasmodic oil development history. Unlike Saudi Arabia, Iraq has had only two periods of sustained exploration ¿ 1952-1961 and 1972-1980 ¿ since the discovery of Kirkuk field in 1927. These efforts were very successful, finding 79 major structures. Only 15 of these new structures have seen any development, however, leaving the country's oil reserves open to widely varying estimates.
The USGS estimates Iraq's reserves at 50 billion barrels (Bbbl) of oil, while Iraq's published reserves are set at 112 Bbbl. The CEGS recently completed a study of Iraq's oil potential covering 440 known structures. It is published in a five-volume set of historical data and reserves estimates. The CGES estimates that Iraq's reserves rival Saudi Arabia at over 200 Bbbl of oil.
The significant challenge for the development of this resource is the limited investment capital available within the country. Dr. Chalabi explained how the government of Saddam Hussein limited development through its policy of nationalization.
Dr Chalabi suggested that the best course for Iraq is to adopt a privatization policy and create stable conditions for foreign investment, so that new oil fields can be opened for development. The CGES study estimates that Iraq could reach a production capacity of 12 million b/d of oil with sustained investment.