Iraq has auctioned off more proven oil reserves in the past six months than are collectively held by the United States, Mexico, and the United Kingdom.
But U.S. oil companies have signed surprisingly few development contracts – and foreign rivals have swooped in to scoop up major deals.
Take last weekend, when Iraq wrapped up the biggest oil-field auction in history. Major new deals were announced by Europe's Royal Dutch Shell PLC (NYSE: RDS.A , RDS.B), OAO Gazprom (OTC ADR: OGZPY), Lukoil (OTC ADR: LUKOY), China's China National Petroleum Corp. (CNPC), and Malaysia's Petroliam Nasional Berhad (Petronas).
The U.S. oil majors – ExxonMobil Corp. (NYSE: XOM), ConocoPhillips (NYSE: COP) and Chevron Corp. (NYSE: CVX) – were nowhere to be seen.