Iraq has the third largest proven crude oil reserves in the world and is the least explored of the oil-rich Middle-Eastern countries.
Oil accounts for more than 60% of GDP, but the industry faces serious problems resulting from years of sanctions and under-investment.
Under optimal conditions, it is estimated that Iraq could produce up to 6m barrels a day - almost double its peak of 3.5m, reached in 1979 before the war with Iran. Since the conflict, oil exports peaked at 1.8m in March 2004 - well below pre-invasion levels of about 2.5m barrels per day - but fell to 1.54m by Feb 2007.
Between April 2003 and January 2007 there were an estimated 391 attacks on Iraqi oil and gas pipelines, installations and personnel, costing the country billions of dollars in lost oil export revenues and repair costs.