Iraq has the world’s third-largest oil reserves. However, the development of Iraq’s petroleum sector has been severely hampered by decades of war, sanctions, underinvestment, the exodus of scores of technocrats, and sabotage. Repairing Iraq’s oil infrastructure and expanding exploration, development, and production is of paramount importance to the country’s future. In June 2009, the Iraqi Oil Ministry embarked on an effort to help meet this challenge by offering service contracts to international oil companies (IOCs) in two rounds of tenders. The essays contained in this special edition of MEI Viewpoints explore the official expectations and current status of the contracts awarded to IOCs. They also provide a sober assessment of the legal and political obstacles yet to be overcome, as well as sage advice as to how those seeking to invest in Iraq’s petroleum sector can minimize the hazards of doing business there.

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