In an issued joint statement by the United States of America and Iraq, both countries today reaffirmed their commitment to boost cooperation on energy, particularly in the areas of oil production and export, natural gas, electricity, and critical energy infrastructure protection during the inaugural meeting of the Joint Coordinating Committee (JCC) on Energy.
The meeting was held at the U.S. Department of Energy and was co-chaired by Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister for Energy Dr. Hussain Al Shahristani and U.S. Deputy Secretary of Energy Daniel Poneman and Special Envoy and Coordinator for International Energy Affairs at the U.S. Department of State Ambassador Carlos Pascual.
During the meeting, both parties shared interest in making efforts to assure oil markets meet producers’ and consumers’ needs for worldwide economic growth.
The United States also has recognized the bold steps Iraq has taken to increase its oil production and export. The U.S. Government supports these major steps forward.
At the meeting, the United States also expressed its continued commitment to support Iraq’s electricity sector through training in operations and maintenance, the provision of spare parts, and the development of the Iraq Electricity Master Plans and the assistance to implement it.
The United States notes its significant contributions to Iraq’s energy sector since 2003, including $4.6 billion to the power sector and $2.1 billion to the oil sector.
The delegations also discussed the progress of the ongoing energy capacity building programs conducted by the U.S. Department of Commerce Commercial Law Development Program and the U.S. Agency for International Development.
The United States outlined the potentially greater role for the U.S. Export-Import Bank and the Overseas Private Investment Corporation to expand financing for energy trade and investments.
Deputy Prime Minister Shahristani and Deputy Secretary Poneman will travel together to Lawrence Livermore National Laboratories on April 24, 2012 where they will see demonstrations of advanced technology in the areas of critical infrastructure protection for oil facilities, advanced civilian nuclear technology and renewable energy technology.
The JCC on Energy was established by the 2008 Strategic Framework Agreement between Iraq and the United States to strengthen the countries’ strategic partnership on a variety of initiatives.
Iraq has the second largest oil reserves in the world, following Saudi Arabia. Only about 10 percent of these reserves have been explored, according to a July report by the International Energy Agency. Iraq could become a particularly desirable, and potentially lucrative, destination for foreign oil companies because 60 percent of proven reserves are in undeveloped fields.
The Iraqi oil sector, left dilapidated by Saddam’s regime, additionally has been crippled by corruption and by terrorist and insurgent attacks on oil infrastructure, after the 2003 U.S.-led operation in Iraq. In the two years since it resumed exporting petroleum in June 2003, Iraq has lost more than $11 billion in oil revenue due to theft and sabotage against oil infrastructure, according to the Iraqi oil ministry.
In February 2011, the United States reaffirmed its interests in Iraq which is to help the country emerge as a strategic partner and a force for stability and moderation in a troubled region.
The US government asserts that a stable Iraq will play a critical role in achieving U.S. foreign policy objectives in the Middle East for the foreseeable future. Iraq’s strategic importance is based on a number of factors. Iraq plays a central role in the Arab and Muslim worlds and hosts Shi’a Islam’s holiest sites. Iraq has a diverse, multi-sectarian and multi-ethnic population. Geographically, Iraq is strategically positioned between major regional players, including Jordan, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Iran, and Syria.