This article was published in Middle East Oil & Gas Monitor, 16 October 2012.

The fate of the world economy depends critically on Iraqi oil, according to a report from the International Energy Agency (IEA) published last week. With huge untapped resources, the country has the potential to become the world’s second biggest exporter and to deliver almost half the expected growth in global supply over the next quarter century. But if it fails to deliver, says IEA chief economist Fatih Birol, the oil market is “on course for troubled waters”.

It’s a familiar message from the IEA. In an interview as long ago as 2007 Mr Birol told Le Monde that “If production does not increase in Iraq in an exponential way between now and 2015, we have a very big problem, even if Saudi Arabia meets its obligations”. The press release for the new report takes a more positive spin, claiming “Iraqi oil poised to become game-changer for world markets”. But reading between the lines of the report itself shows how unlikely it is that Iraq will save the day.

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