Independent: Iraq was about oil

Funny old thing. After donning a tinfoil hat it occurred to me that the US may have a vested interest in not fixing Iraq. If chaos continues, long term US support and a military presence is required...

The downside of this theory is the same as the World Trade Centre conspiracies: the US are simply too incompetent to execute a complex conspiracy. Or is this a cunning illusion? 8O

Future of Iraq: The spoils of war

How the West will make a killing on Iraqi oil riches

By Danny Fortson, Andrew Murray-Watson and Tim Webb
Published: 07 January 2007

Iraq's massive oil reserves, the third-largest in the world, are about to be thrown open for large-scale exploitation by Western oil companies under a controversial law which is expected to come before the Iraqi parliament within days.

The US government has been involved in drawing up the law, a draft of which has been seen by The Independent on Sunday. It would give big oil companies such as BP, Shell and Exxon 30-year contracts to extract Iraqi crude and allow the first large-scale operation of foreign oil interests in the country since the industry was nationalised in 1972.

The huge potential prizes for Western firms will give ammunition to critics who say the Iraq war was fought for oil. They point to statements such as one from Vice-President Dick Cheney, who said in 1999, while he was still chief executive of the oil services company Halliburton, that the world would need an additional 50 million barrels of oil a day by 2010. "So where is the oil going to come from?... The Middle East, with two-thirds of the world's oil and the lowest cost, is still where the prize ultimately lies," he said.

Oil industry executives and analysts say the law, which would permit Western companies to pocket up to three-quarters of profits in the early years, is the only way to get Iraq's oil industry back on its feet after years of sanctions, war and loss of expertise. But it will operate through "production-sharing agreements" (or PSAs) which are highly unusual in the Middle East, where the oil industry in Saudi Arabia and Iran, the world's two largest producers, is state controlled.

Opponents say Iraq, where oil accounts for 95 per cent of the economy, is being forced to surrender an unacceptable degree of sovereignty.

Proposing the parliamentary motion for war in 2003, Tony Blair denied the "false claim" that "we want to seize" Iraq's oil revenues. He said the money should be put into a trust fund, run by the UN, for the Iraqis, but the idea came to nothing. The same year Colin Powell, then Secretary of State, said: "It cost a great deal of money to prosecute this war. But the oil of the Iraqi people belongs to the Iraqi people; it is their wealth, it will be used for their benefit. So we did not do it for oil."

Supporters say the provision allowing oil companies to take up to 75 per cent of the profits will last until they have recouped initial drilling costs. After that, they would collect about 20 per cent of all profits, according to industry sources in Iraq. But that is twice the industry average for such deals.

Greg Muttitt, a researcher for Platform, a human rights and environmental group which monitors the oil industry, said Iraq was being asked to pay an enormous price over the next 30 years for its present instability. "They would lose out massively," he said, "because they don't have the capacity at the moment to strike a good deal."

Iraq's Deputy Prime Minister, Barham Salih, who chairs the country's oil committee, is expected to unveil the legislation as early as today. "It is a redrawing of the whole Iraqi oil industry [to] a modern standard," said Khaled Salih, spokesman for the Kurdish Regional Government, a party to the negotiations. The Iraqi government hopes to have the law on the books by March.

Several major oil companies are said to have sent teams into the country in recent months to lobby for deals ahead of the law, though the big names are considered unlikely to invest until the violence in Iraq abates.

James Paul, executive director at the Global Policy Forum, the international government watchdog, said: "It is not an exaggeration to say that the overwhelming majority of the population would be opposed to this. To do it anyway, with minimal discussion within the [Iraqi] parliament is really just pouring more oil on the fire."

Vince Cable, the Liberal Democrat Treasury spokesman and a former chief economist at Shell, said it was crucial that any deal would guarantee funds for rebuilding Iraq. "It is absolutely vital that the revenue from the oil industry goes into Iraqi development and is seen to do so," he said. "Although it does make sense to collaborate with foreign investors, it is very important the terms are seen to be fair."
No you don't say?
There I was thinking we invaded the country because they were threatening us!

What I want to know is will the soldiers we sent to fight get a share of the spoils?
After all Milo Minderbinder from Catch 22 at least had the courtesy to leave share certificates in Milo Minderbinder Industries in the paras back packs after nicking their shutes to sell the silk on the black market.

Come to think of it, have any of them benefited from a dividend payout from Halliburton yet?
What's wrong.... don't you need Oil anymore? ;)

When the venture capitalists decided to go for it and plant some Christmas Trees below the Ice Sheet in far eastern Russia (at a cost of just a few measly billion for start up) they just so happened to own huge chunks of ExxonMobil, BP, Shell etc. A mere coincidence...

Twice a year the Kremlin send some suits East on a 'Jolly' on the Siberian Railway to make sure they get their 'national interests' seen too, which is essentially just a massive cut of the pie.

In short Russia had to do bugger all really, just leave it to the experts. I guess the notion of being able to flick a switch and having the lights come on still appeals to large sections of the planet who don't have it yet.
Hey limbo dancer,
some of us prefer to pay for it in a civilised way whilst rather spending money on war use it to develop alternatives, Yes?
Damn right SLRboy. And when they do decide to use Stevenson engines to burn the metal of recycled cars to power cars I'll be first in line at the BP Garage ;)

The above was just a little pointer on how 'benign' (if that's ever a word that works with the Oil & Gas industry) cooperation between international venture capitalists and governments can be. Russia could have said no to ExxonMobil and yes to Petrobras for example, but they just so happened to make a better business deal.

Globalization II (or are we at III now, I forget) is a Force Majeure.


War Hero
Oh for god's sake, we invaded Iraq for a multitude of reasons, not just oil!

Firstly there was the very real 45 minutes WMD threat, plus the threat to the rest of the region, not that we did anything during the Iran/Iraq war (apart from supply Saddam with our cast-off desert kecks).

It was also unfinished business for Bush as daddy hadn't done the job properly.

Don't mention the . . . Haliburton!

Call the oil the spoils of war.
Giblets wrote:

"Firstly there was the very real 45 minutes WMD..."

Are you feeling alright mate?


War Hero
No, not at al, thanks for asking; I think I'll just have a little lie down . . .

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