Between $5-million and $15-million worth of oil a day is unaccounted for in Iraq and could have been siphoned off through corruption or smuggling, The New York Times reported.
Citing a draft US government report it gained access to, the newspaper said the amounts relate to between 100,000 and 300,000 barrels per day (bpd) of Iraq’s declared oil production over the past four years.
The report does not give a final conclusion on what happened to the missing fraction of the roughly 2 million bpd pumped by Iraq, the paper said.
But the findings are sure to reinforce longstanding suspicions that smugglers, insurgents, and corrupt officials control significant parts of the country’s oil industry, The Times said.
The report also covered alternative explanations for the billions of dollars worth of discrepancies, including the possibility that Iraq has been consistently overstating its oil production.
Iraq and the US State Department have been under relentless pressure to show tangible progress in Iraq by raising production levels, which have languished well below the US goal of 3 million bpd, according to the report.
The draft report, expected to be released within the next week, was prepared by the United States Government Accountability Office with the help of government energy analysts, and was provided to The Times by a separate government office that received a review copy.
(Middle East Times & AFP)