Guide to Energy in the Middle East

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Research Guide to Energy in the Middle East

Eight countries in the Middle East and North Africa—Algeria, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Libya, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE—belong to the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and depend heavily on petroleum revenues. Oman is a significant net exporter of oil and gas, too, while Egypt, Syria and Yemen produce enough oil to export, as well. OPEC’s own website (—where you can find the OPEC Bulletin as well as monthly and annual statistical data) was finally relaunched in February 2005.

© Jan Ellis

Historical backdrop

Two articles from the Saudi Aramco World archives—‘Bulls from the Sea: Ancient Oil Industries’ ( and a history of ‘Muslims and the Oil Industry’ (—provide plenty of context.
The University of Virginia’s Arabian Peninsula and Gulf Studies Program company- ( and country-chronologies of international activity ( in the Persian Gulf are current as of 2000 (“to be updated once the various privatization schemes in the Gulf States are finalized, if ever”).

An industry overview

Petroleum Finance Co.’s “PFC Energy 50” ranks the world’s largest energy players at
general information about oil is available from the American Petroleum Institute at

Petroleum reserves

In February 2004, a major discussion of the actual level of Saudi reserves took place at a Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) conference in Washington, DC. The presentation of Matt Simmons, who argues that the Saudi reserves are overestimated, and the reply of Saudi Aramco are on the CSIS site. They are very clear and most informative: versus
Highlights from the CSIS International Energy Outlook 2004 conference courtesy of the Saudi-US Relations Information Service (SURIS), with links to the full report, are posted at
The latest info on Saudi Aramco12.151.162.56/sa/pubs/Facts_Figure2003E.pdf. Plus:

  • Saudi Arabia's Oil Reserves, by Dr. Sadad Al-Husseini

  • Saudi Arabia Ready to Boost Crude Oil Output

  • U.S.-Saudi Relations and Global Energy Security

British Petroleum’s indispensable Statistical Review of World Energy 2004 is available online too at

The economic situation

Saudi American Bank’s thoughtful overview of the Saudi economy, as of February ’02 (at, gently refers to the kingdom’s unemployment problems—if not the need to attract foreign direct investment in Saudi Arabia’s petroleum industry.
The International Energy Agency (IEA) guards its information carefully, but offers a wealth of economic statistics at; free newsletters at; the current issue of its Oil Market Report at, plus the penultimate edition of its statistical supplement and users’ guide at
The Central Intelligence Agency’s famous Factbook provides national economic activity, as dominated to greater or lesser extent by petroleum. Choose the individual country by name, at, then click ‘Economy’.
GulfWire, issued by the National Council on US-Arab Relations and the US-Gulf Cooperation Council’s Corporate Cooperation Committee, offers good leads to publications on gulf economies:
US policy

The latest data on US oil imports from the US Department of Energy (DoE) is found at The DoE’s Energy Information Administration (EIA) maintains the best energy site on the Web (, by far, including:

  • an OPEC factsheet, at;

  • an OPEC revenues factsheet, at;

  • a country profile of Saudi Arabia, at; and

  • Persian Gulf oil & gas exports, at

For more, go to the DoE’s homepage ( and look at ‘Historical Data’ and/or its ‘Energy Links’ (from the menu on the left-hand side of the page); or review the EIA index (‘Energy A-Z’) for reports on everything from CO2 to GDP.
Oil fields

US Geological Survey publishes interactive Maps Showing Geology, Oil and Gas Fields and Geological Provinces of the Arabian Peninsula (go to, where you can click to view an even better new interactive map), Africa ( and the former Soviet Union (FSU) (
Interactive international oil-deposit maps are available at Baseline DGSI’s ‘non-proprietary à la carte oil library, at
‘Oil Fields of the Middle East,’ c.1996, courtesy of Pasadena’s Polytechnic School & the Britannica:
The geography of Iraq, courtesy of UC/Berkeley’s International and Area Studies: Thanks to the efforts of Judicial Watch and the Sierra Club, two public-interest groups, the US Commerce Department in July 2003 released some documents dated March 2001 that were used by the so-called Cheney Energy Task Force, including a map of Iraqi oilfields, pipelines, refineries and terminals, as well as two charts detailing Iraqi oil and gas projects, and a list of “Foreign Suitors for Iraqi Oilfield Contracts.” Go to and enter Oil Field in the search field; open the first document that appears—“Media Advisory: Cheney Energy Task Force Documents Feature Map of Iraqi Oilfield”—and click the link at the bottom of that document to see “maps and charts of oilfields: cheney energy task force.

Meanwhile, maps of Iraq’s oil industry operations as of 1953 and 2003, respectively, can be found at and
Iran: and
A map of Turkey’s regional suppliers, pipelines, refineries and oil wells, from Le Monde Diplomatique is posted at A description of the scandalous Blue Stream project, since abandoned, brings the story full circle:
National economic activity, as dominated to greater or lesser extent by petroleum, was l mapped en masse by the CIA in 1993 then posted by the University of Texas for…










Saudi Arabia:




Oil prices

The current price of the daily OPEC oil basket can be found on a banner running across; click on the banner itself for further details. For weekly and monthly and yearly basket averages, &., go to the homepage and click on ‘Market Indicators’.

CNN Money’s real-time oil and gas prices:

Conversion factors translating barrels into cubic meters, gas cubic meters into BTUs, &c., can be found at First click on ‘Energy Tables’ then ‘Conversion Factors.’ (The Energy Tables post good information on OPEC production and quotas.)
DoE’s graph of ‘World Oil Market and Oil Price Chronology: 1970-2003’ is posted at (NPR has republished a complementary chronology from the DoE’s Office of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, Analysis Division, for 1970-2000 at Additional monthly chronologies for 2001 (, 2002 (, 2003 (, 2004 ( and 2005 are all available, courtesy of DoE (
WTRG Economics’ site graphs Crude Oil, Gasoline and Natural Gas Futures, at, and offers historical economic and strategic analysis of petroleum markets as well as graphic analyses of oil prices ( from 1867 to 2003.


World Oil Transit Checkpoints, from the DoE:
Iraq Pipeline Watch—a chronological compendium of attacks since Iraq was invaded in 2003—from the Institute for Analysis of Global Security (IAGS, a nonprofit organization):
World Oil’s comprehensive map of Africa highlights the Maghreb’s oil-and-gas installations, at
‘Tapline: the story of the world’s biggest pipeline,’ from the Trans-Arabian Pipeline Company, c.1951, replete with maps, black-and-white photos, courtesy of al Mashriq:
Westward ho! Russia’s treatment of Yukos, one of its own private oil companies, and indeed its recently announced restrictions on foreign participation in tenders to extract mineral resources, are unlikely to encourage further foreign investment, but a RusEnergy map ( depicts OPEC’s competition from the country’s Druzhba and Adria pipeline connections to new western ports. The network of Russian oil and condensate trunklines, from Finland’s University of Lapland, c.1997, can be found at For further information, check the pages of The Moscow Times (, where local debates are frequently laid out in English.
Various Caspian pipelines—present and future—from Clement M. Henry, at UT/Austin:;

Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson Center maintains a dynamic (but slightly outdated) Caspian routemap at (See DoE’s Caspian factsheet for the current US POV.)

A broader overview of Central Asian oil transport plans courtesy SUNY/Binghamton and the Britannica, c. 1999:


Algeria first tapped the international market for liquefied natural gas (LNG), in 1964; some 40 years later, a giant contract between Shell and Qatar to supply LNG to America and Europe is just the latest deal with the small Gulf emirate—which is pushing to help meet burgeoning energy needs and become the predominant LNG supplier. Since the world’s inventory of gas reserves is more widely spread than is its oil, the growth in facilities for handling LNG could mean greater energy security as well. The Economist’s current coverage:
Tanker traffic

World Oil Transit Checkpoints, from the DoE:

The American Association of Port Authorities’ Glossary of Maritime Terms:
Poten & Partners ( provides first-rate analysis of the trade and transportation of crude oil, LNG, LPG, et cetera, much of it posted in the public domain.
The Institute for the Analysis of Global Security (IAGS)’s ‘Threats to Oil Transport’ is posted at

Offshore operations

Offshore Environment ( offers analysis of petroleum’s maritime consequences, e.g., the impact of decommissioned offshore installations (

The status of worldwide refining, from DoE’s Energy Information Administration, at and at (to be updated March 2005).


The US Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control sanctions programs: Iran:


DoE’s report on Global Energy Sanctions:


The United States’ Export-Import Bank used to post a variety of national factsheets, but now appears solely concerned with Iraq:
EU ‘Relations with Iran’:
Islamic Banking

Harvard University’s Islamic Finance Information Program posts links to most Islamic financial institutions around the world, at The Institute of Islamic Banking and Insurance provides a complementary host of links and info at
Riyadh’s Al Rajhi Banking and Investment Corp. ( is the largest Islamic bank in the world. The Arab League’s Islamic Development Bank ( is based in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Al Baraka, a holding company based in Bahrain and controlled from Jeddah (, is the most sophisticated of the int’l Islamic banking institutions. Kuwait Finance House ( is Kuwait’s largest Islamic bank (click the large ‘E’ on the left for an English version).
Alternative energy sources

H. E. Taylor publishes a wonderful guide to ‘Energy: Prospects and Alternatives’, at, and particularly recommends:

<> ASPO: Association for the Study of Peak Oil
<> The Oil Crisis
<> Oil Production & The Hubbert Peak
<> Hubbert Centre
<> a critique

Resources for the Future’s glossary of ‘alternative energy’ terms is posted at, along with policy papers and other publications, at The DoE’s glossary of energy-related terms can be found at
The Pew Center on Global Climate Change offers policy briefs, environmental-impact reports and analyses at, and Britain’s Eyeforenergy posts the latest international news and alternative energy issues (

Columbia’s Center for Energy, Marine Transportation, and Public Policy hosts a set of oil links and course materials at Students can avail themselves of back issues of MEES on the Center’s terminal, as well as access to all Energy Intelligence Group publications (otherwise available for a fee at
The James A. Baker Institute for Public Policy ( recently posted 15 papers concerning The Energy Dimension in Russian Global Strategy (at and a variety of other helpful publications (at
The University of Dundee’s postgrad Centre for Energy, Petroleum and Mineral Law and Policy site ( hosts an internet journal and archives.
News & Links

Middle East Economic Survey is the best oil newsletter by far, but expensive. The MEES site ( posts some general information, however, with an index at Good links:
Links to most large oil companies, courtesy of Platts Oilgram News — the industry standard—can be found at The subscription-based global energy information service ( offers all of its web content for free—although you may be required to register—including news headlines and stories updated several times a day in real-time; longer news stories taken from Platts 250 products and services; charts; web features, which look at an energy industry hot topic in more detail; events listings; and an energy careers center.
Platts acquired Financial Times Energy in September 2001 (but a deft search of Nexis-Lexis will produce this and most other subscription-based info) while the daily FT’s great coverage is still available for free at
The Oil & Gas Journal website,, posts lots of relevant headlines (plus O&GJ reportage and databases for subscribers only).
For legendary Saudi Sheikh Ahmed Zaki Yamani’s Centre for Global Energy Studies’ Global Oil Report summaries of non-OPEC output, see
For more oil company links, try or
Middle East North Africa Financial Network offers helpful market data and news ( and OPEC News (at offers a compendium of articles from a variety of sources—as does Alexander’s Gas and Oil Connections, at
Try, a good general site with many working links to shipping, OPEC et alia, plus a wide array of news, at, or—for offshore and maritime news from the same Internet publisher—try Mideast Energy, at
Energy Connection is a membership based collection of oil- and gas-related internet sites, information, prices, search engine and more... at

AME Info’s Energy, Oil & Gas news and country guides are available online at Pipeline Magazine carries interesting natural-gas and project news at
For good basic coverage, try Bloomberg online at
National oil companies

Italy’s Eni provides a broad-brush synopsis of petroleum ops around the world. Go to, click on the ‘English version,’ then choose ‘Eni Around the World’ and select individual oil-producing countries from the site’s drop-down regional menus.

The Country Study Series at provides the online version of books previously published in hard copy by the Federal Research Division of the Library of Congress under the Country Studies/Area Handbook Program sponsored by the U.S. Department of Army—beginning (for our purposes) with the “Discovery of Oil” (
Don’t forget the DoE’s Energy Information Administration’s country analyses, at
Abu Dhabi is the wealthiest of the United Arab Emirates and home to the world’s third largest proven oil reserves. Its National Oil Company is on-line at

A summary of Dubai’s oil and gas concessions is posted at And the US Army’s historical overview of the UAE’s oil and gas sector is posted at

Algeria: Sonatrach ( and Sonelgaz (
Bahrain apparently opts not to field a website for its national oil (BPC) and gas (BNG) companies, so be sure to take a look at the US Army’s historical overview, at, and DoE’s country analysis, at
The Egyptian General Petroleum Company:

The Egyptian Natural Gas Company (transport):
The National Iranian Oil Company (,

the National Petrochemical Company (

The Iranian Offshore Engineering & Construction Co.:

Iran’s oil terminals:

Iran’s Institute for International Energy Studies ( publishes numerous studies, news and a remarkable list of energy sites and Iranian links, but is no longer available in English. NetIran ( posts detailed coverage of NIOC and the oil industry (click ‘Clippings’). The US Army’s historical overview is available at and
Iraq’s National Oil Company was subsumed by the Ministry of Oil in 1987 (see “Oil in the 1980s,” at, which maintains a site at

The DoE’s Iraq Energy Chronology 1980-2004 ( supplements EIA’s country analysis (at Histories of the Iraq Petroleum Company and its forerunner, the Turkish Petroleum Company, appear at and

(Additional histories are available from the US Army at and MEES editor-in-chief Walid Khadduri’s heads-up for Iraq’s oil industry is posted at
Israel’s Paz:
The Kuwait Oil Co site resides at; the Stock Exchange is listed at, and the Kuwait Information Office in Washington, DC, tackles ‘Oil and Industry’ at US Army’s historical study: For DoD’s report on environmental exposure to oil well fires following Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait, including small maps of oil fields and international troop movements, see
A Daily Star obituary of Lebanon’s foremost geologist, Ziad Rafik Beydouin, is posted courtesy of al Mashriq, at The EIA’s country analysis is posted at
Concomitant with newly relaxed relations with the United States, Libya’s National Oil Corporation has finally posted a website (, but it’s not terribly illuminating. The EIA’s new country analysis:
The Oman Oil Company appears to have allowed its website to lapse, but an official description of the oil and gas sectors is posted at The US Army’s historical overview is available at
Qatar Petroleum (, QatarGas (, Ras Laffan LNG Co. ( and Qatar Petrochemical Company (www.qapco).

US Army overview:

The Saudi national oil company, Saudi Aramco: The bountiful Saudi Aramco World is now available on a separate site:

The kingdom’s main petrochemical company, SABIC, is accessible at

The US Army’s historical overview:, and
Syria’s Al Furat Petroleum Company (managed in conjunction with Shell and PetroCanada) is on-line at The EIA’s country analysis is posted at
The Turkish Petroleum Corporation operates a terrific site at The US Army’s historical overview of Turkish energy interdependence is available at
Yemen’s Ministry of Oil and Minerals maintains a rudimentary presence and oil-related map at; but the General Gas Corporation appears to have allowed its website ( to expire in 2004. So take a look at www.huntoilcom for a general description of Yemen Hunt Oil or Yemen Hunt LNG (click on ‘Operations Overview’ and then ‘Yemen’). And Occidental Petroleum’s Canadian spin-off Nexen Inc., the most active oil company in Yemen, outlines its activity there at The DoE’s EIA may help to fill the void, at

Legal regimes & trade regulations

For information concerning business contracts see Barrows (for tables of contents, at least, and occasional free samples), at Barrows’ invaluable series of historical World Petroleum Arrangements is posted as follows:

Abu Dhabi:

















Ras al-Khaimah:

Saudi Arabia:





Umm al-Qaiwain:


Appendices for the Middle East and North Africa are on-line at and
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