Despite sectarian bombings and political gridlock, Iraq's crude oil production is soaring, providing a singular bright spot for the nation's future and relief for global oil markets as the West tightens sanctions on Iranian exports.
The increased flow and port improvements have produced a 20 percent jump in exports this year to nearly 2.5 million barrels of oil a day, making Iraq one of the premier producers in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries for the first time in decades. Energy analysts say that the Iraqi boom -- along with increased production in Saudi Arabia and the near total recovery of Libya's oil industry -- should cushion oil markets from price spikes and give the international community additional leverage over Iran when new sanctions take effect in July.
"Iraq helps enormously," said David Goldwyn, the former State Department coordinator for international energy affairs in the Obama administration. Even if Iraq increased its oil exports by only half of what it is projecting by next year, he said, "You would be replacing nearly half of the future Iranian supply potentially displaced by tighter sanctions."
For Iraq, the resurgence of oil, which it is already pumping at rates seen only once -- and briefly -- since Saddam Hussein took power in 1979, is vital to its postwar success. Oil, which provides more than 95 percent of the government's revenues, has enabled the building of roads and the expansion of social services.
NEW YORK TIMES