Iraqs Navy and allies are making headway to protect the countrys two primary oil terminals in the northern Arabian Gulf, as a ramp up in oil exports from the terminals is planned.
Switzerlands Foster Wheeler has been named project manager and consultant for the Iraqi Crude Oil Export Expansion Project, a four-year effort that will increase oil export capacity from about 1.6 million barrels per day (bpd) to 4.5 million bpd by 2014.
Iraq exports about 1.9 million bpd from the two oil terminals in the Gulf, a northern pipeline into Turkey and truckloads to Jordan.
That capacity will have to rise in order to meet upcoming production increases: in the past nine months, Iraq has signed 11 oil development contracts with foreign oil companies aimed at boosting production capacity to more than 12.5 million bpd within seven years.
It is not yet clear whether foreign forces will be needed after the US withdrawal by the end of 2011. The current 74,000 US troops remaining in Iraq will drop to 50,000 by 1 September.
With the northern pipeline facing irregular bombing, security remains a concern for foreign investors, Attacks on southern oil infrastructure are rare, though tribal discontent over the oil industry has increased, and weapons caches have been found near oil fields.
On the sea, Navy is growing as purchases float in, including a diverse fleet of US, Italian, and Chinese craft, taking over point defense at one of the oil platforms and working to take over the point defense of the second oil platform.
The US will undertake an assessment in 2011 to decide whether it will have to provide some support or assistance in the Arabian Gulf.