May 28 2012
By Hussein al-Alawi
Azzaman, May 28, 2012
Iraq is to emerge as the world’s top exporter of oil in 2017, replacing Saudi Arabia which has dominated world oil exports for decades, U.S. ambassador to Iraq James Jeffery said.
Jeffery made the remarks at the end of his term as U.S. ambassador to Iraq. He said he was pleased with the economic development taking place in the country but emphasized that the country needed to diversity its income in order to sustain economic growth.
The ambassador said Iraq was turning into something like a magnet for international firms with companies from the world’s major economic powers currently present in the country.
But the leaps Iraq has made in its oil industry received most of the ambassador’s praise.
Iraq’s standing as an oil exporter in international markets has been consolidated recently as its exports averaged 2.5 million barrels a day last month, surpassing those of Iran.
But Jeffery said Iraq should develop economic sectors other than oil to generate income. He mentioned services and tourism as the sectors that are in need of urgent investment.
Iraq’s oil revenues are mushrooming and this year the country expects a surplus that will be enough to address its budget deficit and set aside billions of dollars to be distributed to low-income groups in the society.
Iraq’s oil riches are estimated at 115 billion barrels of proven reserves, but officials at the Oil Ministry say the figure is likely to skyrocket once explorations in the country are completed.
Much of Iraq, particularly the central parts, remain unexplored.
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