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IHS: Iraq's Oil Production Capacity Could Double in Near Term

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IHS Inc. on Wednesday announced the upcoming launch of the Iraq Atlas, the first and only detailed analysis of oil reserves, production and development opportunities developed since the start of the Iraq conflict.

The Iraq Atlas, which will be available from IHS on May 9, is a unique overview of all known prospects and fields in Iraq, and estimates oil reserves at up to 116 billion barrels, ranking the country number three in the world. The Iraq Atlas estimates that there could potentially be another 100 billion barrels of oil in the Western Desert of Iraq.

The Iraq Atlas provides the highest and most accurate level of detail available to date of reserves field by field. A total of 435 undrilled prospects and non-commercial discoveries, and 81 producing fields and commercial discoveries are included. Reservoirs have been re-evaluated using new information and all field reserves and production numbers have been reassessed and validated. In particular, the Iraq Atlas reviews:

--All proven and in-place reserves by reservoir, including cumulative production figures
--Estimates of remaining recoverable oil and gas reserves by reservoir by the end 2006
--Location maps and structure maps for fields and prospects, along with maps of the new bidding round blocks
--New discoveries in Iraqi Kurdistan, along with a guide to exploration in this region
--The Western Desert of Iraq, which is believed to hold exploration potential of approximately 100 billion barrels of oil and a large amount of gas
--A complete review of the stratigraphy for all discoveries in Iraq, including test results and stratigraphic columns and cross sections

"The market has not had access to this level of data and analysis on Iraq's oil reserves and production capabilities for many years," said Ron Mobed, president and chief operating officer of the energy segment of IHS. "Clearly, the sourcing of accurate data is invaluable in planning, negotiating and contracting for the rebuilding of Iraq's oil infrastructure. While a few companies may have selected data based on cooperative agreements, most are basing investigations of geological, cost and risk considerations on older and less detailed data. With the Iraq Atlas, investors are now able to assess both exploration and field partnership opportunities in the region, and IHS is well placed to advise them on such opportunities."

"In 2007, the Iraqi government is expected to launch a bid round for 65 exploration blocks and 78 fields are also to be offered for development," Mobed added. "The Iraq Atlas will help companies evaluate these blocks and fields quickly and accurately."

It took more than a year of research to develop the Iraq Atlas using IHS software and a number of IHS and Iraqi geological and petroleum engineers with an average of more than 30 years of regional expertise in the Iraq exploration and production sector. The Iraq Atlas provides insight on investment issues and a host of other features across the geo-political and geological landscape.

The Iraq Atlas estimate of up to another potential 100 billion barrels of oil reserves is largely based on the establishment of new play concepts in the Western Desert of Iraq, which have been generated from a recent study of the Western Arabian Platform. The Western Desert of Iraq is widely regarded as being substantially under explored with only one commercial discovery in the region largely because Iraq has had a surplus of oil to date and little incentive for exploration.

"Most of Iraq's oil production comes from the south of Iraq and is exported via the Persian Gulf because of repeated sabotage attacks on facilities in the north," said Mohamed Zine, IHS regional manager for the Middle East. "This has resulted in a current production capacity of two million barrels of oil per day. However, the Iraq Atlas estimates indicate that given a stable political and civil environment, Iraq has the potential to produce four million barrels a day in the near term if necessary investments are made in repairing and modernizing facilities."

Zine added: "The cost to produce oil in some Iraq fields is less than $2 per barrel according to our estimates and investments involved in developing the fields are minimal."

Prior to Iraq's war with Iran in 1980, the country had a production capacity of 3.6 million barrels of oil per day. It was 3.2 million barrels per day before the first Gulf War in 1990 and 2.7 million barrels per day before the start of the most recent conflict.

IHS is a leading provider of critical technical information, decision-support tools and related services to customers around the world.

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