Now that Iraq's oil has been secured by coalition forces and hopefully will soon be brought back on stream, it is time to solve a potentially important mystery: how much Iraqi oil is actually there?
Over the past several months, news organizations and experts have regularly cited Department of Energy (DOE) Energy Information Administration (EIA) figures claiming that the territory of Iraq contains over 112 billion barrels (bbl) of proven reserves—oil that has been definitively discovered and is expected to be economically producible. In addition, since Iraq is the least explored of the oil-rich countries, there have been numerous claims of huge undiscovered reserves there as well—oil thought to exist, and expected to become economically recoverable—to the tune of hundreds of billions of barrels. The respected Petroleum Economist Magazine estimates that there may be as many as 200 bbl of oil in Iraq; the Federation of American Scientists estimates 215 bbl; a study by the Council on Foreign Relations and the James A. Baker III Institute at Rice University claimed that Iraq has 220 bbl of undiscovered oil; and another study by the Center for Global Energy Studies and Petrolog & Associates offered an even more optimistic estimate of 300 bbl—a number that would give Iraq reserves greater even than those of Saudi Arabia. In a Guardian interview before the war, Taha Hmud Moussa, Saddam's deputy oil minister, said that all of Iraq's oil reserves "will exceed 300bbl when all Iraq's regions are explored."