Iraq's Oil Reserves Could Be Twice as Large as Previously Thought, Analysis Says

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Iraq's oil reserves could be nearly twice as large as previously estimated, containing more than 200 billion barrels, a new analysis of the war-torn country's oil resources says.

The consulting firm IHS Inc., in a report released Wednesday, said there may be an additional 100 billion barrels of oil beneath the surface in the western part of the country. The country's current reserve base is estimated to be 116 billion barrels.

The U.S. Geological Survey has been less optimistic about Iraq's untapped potential, estimating there exists an additional reserve base of 45 billion barrels.

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The IHS report also said Iraq's daily production, which now stands at 2 million barrels per day, could rise to 4 million barrels a day if the conflict there subsides and new investments in oil infrastructure are made.

In 1979, the country's best year, Iraqi oil production averaged roughly 3 million barrels a day. Iraqi officials had set a target of pumping and 3.5 million barrels a day by mid-2006, but that goal was not realized.

IHS said its experts performed a field-by-field analysis of Iraqi oil prospects and that it would release a detailed analysis of Iraqi oil reserves next month.

"The market has not had access to this level of data and analysis on Iraq's oil reserves and production capabilities for many years," Ron Mobed, president and chief operating officer of the energy division of IHS said in the statement.

A call to Iraq's oil ministry seeking comment was not immediately returned.

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