In 1961, the Iraq Petroleum Company, larger owned by foreign corporations, had a monopoly over Iraq's oil fields. Then in 1961, Qasim, Iraq's prime minister, instituted Public Law (PL) 80 to expropriate 99.5% of the IPC's concession area and prevent them from exploring new oil fields.

My simple problem is that I have no idea what this so-called "concession area" is. What is a "concession area"? What did the IPC lose here? What did it still have?

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    Welcome to History:SE. What has your research shown you so far? Where have you already searched? What did you find? Please help us to help you. You might find it helpful to review the site tour and Help Centre and, in particular, How to Ask. Nov 17, 2019 at 20:13
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    In particular, it would help if you edit your question to explain what you think is missing from, or unclear about, the explanation in the History section of the Wikipedia article about the IPC. Nov 17, 2019 at 20:22
  • @sempaiscuba there's nothing in that Wikipedia article ( or perhaps too much) to connect the dots to OP's simple definition question.
    – Spencer
    Nov 17, 2019 at 22:36
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    @Spencer "The original concession of March 14, 1925 covered all of Iraq, but IPC was reluctant to develop it quickly and production was restricted to fields constituting only one-half of 1 percent of the country's total area" and "... the Iraq concession of 1925 was revised in March 1931, and IPC was granted a blanket concession over 32,000 square miles (83,000 km2) of territory east of the Tigris River". Seems fairly simple. Nov 17, 2019 at 22:51
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    @Spencer I am not sure what the OP is asking. That is why I asked them to edit their question. I am not sure what research they have done, what prior knowledge they have, or even why they refer to the IPC as the "International Petroleum Company". Nov 17, 2019 at 23:06

1 Answer 1


A "concession" in the oil industry is similar to a "claim" in mining -- it's a right, granted by a government, to explore for oil and extract it when found. The government gets a portion of the oil revenue based on the terms of the contract.

The way that oil extraction works, the license covers a specific area of land, ususlly government owned. That's what a "concession territory" is.

As the Wikipedia article about the event you refer to explains, the oil consortium called the Turkish Petroleum Company, later called the Iraq (not International) Petroleum Company, snapped up most of the concession territory in Iraq.

If a government feels that the terms are unfavorable, it can simply revoke the concession, and that's exactly what Iraq did.

IPC lost the right to develop oil under almost all of the territory that Iraq had previously granted it.

Iraq ran the risk of the companies convincing their own governments to go to war with it.

But this was the height of the Cold War, the American partners of IPC had already withdrawn to join ARAMCO, and Qasim was pivoting Iraq's allegiance towards the Soviet Union.

  • The OP didn't quote a Wikipedia article (you may be referring to the one in my comment). I'm sure you will have noticed that the company was never actually called the "International Petroleum Company". Nov 17, 2019 at 23:03

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