Iraq’s rise to become one of the most dominant players in the regional energy sector over the coming decades is a widely anticipated trend within the industry. There are still some major challenges ahead for Al-Sharistani, such as the development of a fully functioning energy infrastructure.
But a recent IEA special report projected that Iraq could contribute as much as 5.6 mbpd to the global oil supply by 2035 and it stands to gain $5 trillion in revenue from oil exports over the period to 2035.
The softly-spoken State of Law party member and ex nuclear scientist Hussain al-Sharistani is responsible for the fastest growing – and potentially largest – hydrocarbons industry on earth, one that once developed may supplant Saudi Arabia as the world’s swing producer of oil.
Sharistani drafted the first incarnation of Iraq’s infamous oil laws. As these stymied amid opposition from Kurdish politicians, he forged Baghdad’s obdurate attitude to Kurdistan’s production sharing contracts, one that survives to this day and has exacerbated the division between the Kurdish region and the rest of Iraq.
Observers and industry experts all point out that the constitutional dispute between Baghdad and Erbil over the PSCs has been a deterrent for oil companies looking to operate in Kurdistan but are afraid that such agreements with the regional government could be void in the future.
However, amid the mire of Iraqi politics, Sharistani – who suffered years of imprisonment and torture at the hands of the Ba’athist regime – is widely reported to be incorruptible. This virtue will be useful in Sharistani’s interim tenure at the Department for Electricity, where contracting debacles and a pitiful lack of progress prompted the sacking of Raad Shalal.