DUBAI, United Arab Emirates - With oil prices above $70 a barrel fouling the world economy, dismay is focusing on Iraq, whose exports have slipped to their lowest levels since the 2003 invasion.
"Iraq could be making a tremendous difference," said Dalton Garis, an economist at the Petroleum Institute in Abu Dhabi. Instead, its shortfall is "a significant contributing factor to the high price of oil," he said.
The rickety Iraqi oil system has been damaged repeatedly by insurgent sabotage and attacks on maintenance crews. Corruption, theft of oil, and widespread mismanagement compound the problems, analysts say.
Iraq also lacks laws that would protect foreign investment, and its government is still sorting out whether oil will be controlled by the central government or the provinces.
The result: Iraq is importing refined oil products at record high prices at a time that it should be boosting exports to take advantage of those prices to earn money for reconstruction.