At the inaugural meeting of the Joint Coordinating Committee on Energy at DC, the United States has expressed commitment to support Iraq’s efforts to increase its oil production.
In his remarks at DC, Special Envoy and Coordinator for International Energy Affairs Ambassador Carlos Pascual said the Joint Coordinating Committee on Energy is reflective of the relationship between the United States and Iraq and how both countries have established mechanisms to be able to work on issues that are critical to both countries, and energy is obviously one of those.
“It’s fundamental to Iraq’s economic future. It’s fundamental to its ability to generate power for its own people.” -Mr. Pascual
He stresses that Joint Coordinating Committee on Energy is fundamental to its ability to supply international markets.
“And in that context, it’s of direct interest to the United States.” – Mr. Pascual
The United States has been working together on how to support Iraq’s efforts to increase its oil production.
Through US support, Iraq has reached a level of about 3 million barrels a day in production.
In 2011, the average was about 2.7 million barrels a day, and in 2010 it was about 2.4 million barrels a day, reflective of a consistent increase over time, Mr. Pascual noted.
Mr. Pascual stresses that one of the issues they discussed was how to sustain that progress.
One of the issues that Deputy Prime Minister Shahristani focused particular attention on was the importance of turning Iraq’s energy resources into the benefit for the Iraqi people, and in that sense, the importance of electricity generation, Mr. Pascual underlined.
The Committee then has reviewed how to continue to work together on increasing electricity availability internally with Iraq.
“Our commitment to this Joint Coordinating Committee is a reflection of the all-of-government approach that we have taken.” -Mr. Pascual
The Department of Energy and the Department of State have been chairing the JCC together.
Recently, the JCC has included participants from a range of other agencies, including the Department of Treasury, the Department of Commerce, and some of US security agencies looking at Iraq’s energy infrastructure.
The United States intends to reinforce in a consistent, steady way, the development of Iraq’s hydrocarbon resources, electricity resources for its people, the environment for international companies to be able to invest, and through that, the United States will benefit as well.
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.