Iraq, one of the world’s leading crude oil producers with the fifth largest share of proven global oil reserves, recently ranked as the second-largest producer among Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) members. Nevertheless, performance of the upstream subsector in terms of oil production volume has been subject to severe disruptions for more than four decades. The main sources for these fluctuations are multi-institutional changes caused by nationalization, wars and United Nations sanctions. This article applies to the Iraqi case an extended version of the multi-cycle Hubbert model, developed by Reynolds and Kolodziej in 2008 and 2009. This econometrics model explores and attempts to quantify statistically the relationship between oil production and multi-institutional changes within Iraq. Findings indicate the negative and significant impacts of abrupt institutional change on the performance of the oil industry where this adverse impact varies in magnitude from one episode to another. As Iraq is still yet in the midst of a turbulent transition, the article also discusses the major challenges of the post-2003 era, associated with the present and potential future development of the Iraqi oil-producing sector. This is especially with regard to the increasing economic and political fragmentation that stems from the absence of a unified oil policy.

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key words:

Iraqi oil production

impact of wars

institutional change


multi-cycle Hubbert model

case study