The Crude Wealth of Iraq


Henry Thompson


Wealth in the world is shifting toward the owners of crude oil making every Iraqi a present value millionaire. Over the next two decades, total world energy consumption will double with serious energy alternatives decades away. Energy prices and the energy share of national income will increase. Monopoly resource profits will go to the owners of oil.

The Arab Gulf has 65% of the world proven oil reserves, and Iraq 12%. If oil in the ground is money in the bank, Iraq is wealthy. Iraq can produce 2 billion barrels per year. At $100 per barrel, that oil would sell for $200 billion. The population of Iraq is 24 million and that oil income translates to $8000 per person. If Iraq sells a quarter of its potential reserves at an average price of $100 for the next 20 years, that would generate 90 billion x $100 = $9 trillion. If the population of Iraq grows to 30 million that would be $300,000 per capita for 20 years, or $15,000 annual income per capita. Productive capital assets are $60,000 per capita in the US, and $5,000 in the entire world. If Iraq invests only a quarter of its oil revenue for the next 20 years, it will match current US productive assets per capita.

The total value of Iraq potential oil reserves at an average profit of $75 per barrel over next 100 years is 360 billion x $75 = $27 trillion or $900,000 per capita, making every Iraqi a millionaire. These calculations do not include natural gas revenue, lately about equal to oil revenue. Also, most of Iraq has not been explored for gas or oil. In the Arab Gulf region, proven oil reserves are 195 trillion barrels. Selling this at an average profit of $75 per barrel for the next 100 years will generate $15,000 trillion income. If half of that is invested, it would amount to $7,500 trillion or a quarter of the present total capital assets in world.