This is just a cost benefit analysis, any discussion about US motivations in engaging in the Iraq war I would consider out of scope.

Iraq nationalized oil production in 1972 (source). Following the invasion of Iraq in 2003, in 2005 a new constitution was drafted including language considering how oil should be addressed (source), though proposed laws to better specify what this language entails have stalled due to debate on the topic.

My question is, how much money has been gained by US firms from exposure to Iraqi oil markets since that market has opened up, and how much money was spent on the Iraq war? Bonus for elaborating on the economic effects on the US economy from access to the oil, if it is significant.

I'm aware oil is a militarily strategic resource and not purely an economic one, but it is harder to quantify the benefit in this regard.

  • 1
    -1 for highly misleading wording. The link is to "Iraqui oil law", which despite Wikipedia and the question's wording is not a law because it didn't pass the parlament. It was a law proposal.
    – user4012
    Feb 2, 2019 at 4:22
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    Downvoted because of the implied connection between the Iraqi War and oil companies.
    – jamesqf
    Feb 2, 2019 at 19:03
  • @user4012 thanks for pointing that out, I was unaware from reading the source that it had not passed and have removed it
    – Gramatik
    Feb 4, 2019 at 21:08

1 Answer 1


As per this 2010 Spiegel report "A Lot of Blood for Little Oil" does not offer the money amount US oil companies gained, but implies it was miniscule - an overwhelming majority of contracts to develop oil in Iraq went to non-US companies (China, Russia, you name it).

The only exceptions were Exxon and Occidental; and subcontracting/servicing by Halliburton (please note that most of the latter's profits related to Iraq had nothing to do with oil and with unrelated services).

The cost listed in Spiegel article was $700B; I have elsewhere $3T-$6T figures on Wikipedia.

There seem to be no source actually listing oil companies profits - the closest I came to hearing the estimate is "millions" in profits (not billions) from an article critical of both Iraq War and the oil firms. While it had no sources or more exact figures, I assume it would not deliberately lower the estimate given its slant.


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