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Economy, Mining

Al Qayyarah, Khanaqin, Al Basrah, Iraqi oil, Taji

Petroleum is the most important natural resource of Iraq. The country is estimated to have about 10 percent of the world’s supply of proved petroleum reserves. The oil fields are located in two main regions: in the southeast, just inland from the Persian Gulf, near Ar Rumaylah, and in the north-central part of the country, near Mosul and Kirkuk. Small deposits of various other minerals are found, principally ores of iron, gold, lead, copper, silver, platinum, and zinc. Phosphates, sulfur, salt, and gypsum are fairly abundant, and seams of brown coal are numerous.

The production of petroleum is the mainstay of Iraq’s economy. The oil wells also yield sizable quantities of natural gas. Until the early 1970s four foreign-owned companies controlled the Iraqi petroleum industry. The two leading firms were the IPC, which held concessions in the north, around Kirkuk and Mosul, and the Basra Petroleum Company, which operated in the southeast, near Al Basrah. From 1972 to 1975 all the foreign oil companies were fully nationalized by the government, and their operations were taken over by the Iraq National Oil Company and the Northern Petroleum Organization. Refineries are located at Baghdad, Al Basrah, ?adithah, Khanaqin, Kirkuk, and Al Qayyarah. A plant for processing and bottling liquefied petroleum gases is situated at At Taji, near Baghdad. Falling oil prices and the war with Iran severely hampered the petroleum industry during the 1980s. The industry was dealt another crippling blow in 1990, when Iraq invaded Kuwait and the UN responded with an embargo on Iraqi oil. In order to alleviate the suffering of the Iraqi people due to the embargo, the UN in 1995 voted to allow Iraq to export limited amounts of oil so the country could buy food, medicine, and other basic goods. Such oil exports began at the end of 1996. Iraq produced an estimated 922 million barrels of petroleum and 3.1 billion cu m (110 billion cu ft) of natural gas in 1999. By comparison, in 1979, the year of its peak production, Iraq produced almost 1.3 billion barrels of petroleum.

Article key phrases:

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