Early exploration surveys in Iraq started at the end of 19th Century. In 1901 the first exploration well in the Middle East, Chai Sorkh-1, was drilled in northern Iraq by a German Company. In 1909, using an old cable tool drilling rig, the first discovery well, Chai Sorkh-9, encountered heavy oil. The first commercial discovery in Iraq was in the Naft Khan-1 well near the Iranian border. In 1925 the Iraq Petroleum Company (IPC) obtained a concession agreement that covered nearly all of the country for 75 years, without relinquishment. In 1927, the first significant oil discovery in Iraq was in well Kirkuk-1, which tested about 100,000 barrels of oil per day. The Iraqi resources are unique when compared to other Middle East countries because Iraq is one of the vastest and least-explored countries in the region. It has an ideal petroleum system with multiple source rocks, reservoirs, cap rocks and trapping systems. The petroleum system extends from the shallow Cenozoic down to deep Paleozoic sequences. Iraq may prove to have one of the greatest petroleum resource bases in the world, with potential oil resources in excess of 215 billions barrels and proven reserves in the region of 114 billions barrels. Moreover, its exploration and development costs are low – amongst the lowest in the Middle East countries. Iraq also is estimated to contain at least 110 trillion cubic ft of natural gas. The country is a focal point for regional and international security issues. Nevertheless, Iraq’s oil is especially attractive to the major international oil companies for several reasons including geographical location, low-risk exploration, low cost per barrel, good oil quality, multiple pipeline access and huge recoverable reserves.


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