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London lagging in Iraqi energy investments

Nov. 23, 2011 at 7:32 AM

LONDON, Nov. 23 (UPI) -- British companies are behind European counterparts in terms of investment in Iraq's burgeoning oil sector, contracts indicate.

Italy ranks second in terms of investors in Iraq followed closely by France, which didn't participate in the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003. Britain, which stood alongside the United States in making the case for war, makes up about 2.9 percent of the foreign investments in Iraq, ranking ninth overall.

"The U.K. lost its first-mover advantage a while ago and is now struggling to get it back," Gavin Jones, partner at Edinburgh consultancy Upper Quartile, told the Financial Times. "A lot of companies are talking about big numbers but they aren't making them yet."

British energy company BP, however, is tapped into the giant Rumaila field in southern Iraq and more than 80 companies took part in an October investment conference in the Kurdish north.

Daily oil production in Iraq has reached pre-war levels of around 2.8 million barrels per day and is on pace to become a world leader in exports.

Nevertheless, Deputy Prime Minister Hussain al-Shahristani, the former Iraqi oil minister, said there were political deterrents to major investments in his country.

"The slow decision making has cost Iraq a lot," he was quoted as saying.

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