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Iraq courts foreign oil companies

The Iranian oil refinery of Mizdeh.

TEXT OF STORY

Stacey Vanek-Smith: Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is in Europe today. His five-day trip includes stops in Germany and Italy, where he will meet with energy firms interested in tapping Iraqi's oil. Violence in his country is down and al-Maliki wants to send a message that Iraq is open for business.

Marketplace's Dan Grech has more.


Dan Grech: Iraq is sitting on billions of barrels of oil, but it doesn't have the money or expertise to pull it out of the ground, so it's looking to European energy firms to help get the job done.

In the long term, Iraq plans to partner with foreign companies to develop new wells.

David Kirsch: The prize on offer, if you will, in Iraq is so great that no oil company can really afford to write it off completely.

That's David Kirsch. He's a former State Department energy analyst now with PFC Energy Consultants.

Kirsch: But I still don't think the oil companies are ready to commit their own personnel to on the ground operations in Iraq.

Kirsch says the streets are too dangerous and the politics too unstable for big oil firms to invest the billions Iraq needs.

Iraq's parliament has yet to pass an oil law that would protect oil companies' long-term investments.

I'm Dan Grech for Marketplace.

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