Apr 5, 2007

It's about the oil, stupid!

A new Petroleum Law will be presented to the Iraqi Parliament that, if enacted, will put effective control of Iraq's vast oil resources in the hands of foreign companies. Nationalized since 1975, Iraq's oil was, before the years of sanctions and the invasion, the foundation for a relatively high standard of living, producing more PhD's per capita than the U.S. and a health care system prized as the best in the region. President Bush says the war is not about oil but his actions belie that claim. In the months before the March 2003 invasion, members of the U.S. State Department “Oil and Energy Working Group” met to plan how to open Iraq to international oil companies. As reported by investigative journalist Greg Palast, the oil law now proposed by the Iraqi Council of Ministers is a virtual photocopy of a plan first drafted by U.S. oil industry executives and consultants in Houston long before Iraq was “liberated.” The proposed Petroleum Law creates a Federal Oil and Gas Council on which would sit representatives of Exxon- Mobil, Shell, BP, etc., whose tasks include approving their own contracts. Instead of Iraqi central government decision-making on oil, the proposal authorizes regional authorities to individually sign contracts with foreign companies, promoting contract bidding wars between regions that could lead to breaking Iraq into three states. The practice in Iraq - as in other countries with giant reserves - has been that control of oil production rests with public sector oil companies. The role of foreign companies is limited to “service contracts.” A company is contracted to provide a stated service for a limited period - build a refinery, lay a pipeline, drill a field. Decisions on development, distribution, and flow of profits remain with the government. Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Iran run their industries this way. However, the proposed Petroleum Law provides for “production sharing agreements,” or long-term contracts whereby foreign companies control production, development and sale of the oil for up to 30 years, and reap as much as 70% of the profits. Given the severe weakness of Iraqi institutions, with the country devastated, under military occupation and mired in civil strife, Iraq is unlikely to receive a fair deal. With huge reserves and low production costs, foreign oil companies in Iraq stand to make enormous profits at the expense of the welfare of Iraq’s people and Iraqi sovereignty.


Progressive Texas Chicano said...

Heya Fade:
GunnerGM is my older cousin Raymond that is active military. His tagline on his personal email reads:

A Democrat That Shoots Back.

Ziem said...

Remember shrub warning Saddam about the oil fields? He said something like, "Don't touch the oil wells, they belong to the Iraqi people..."? Not a quote mind you, but I have that somewhere. Anyway, We were actually driving over the Hoover Dam listening to this idiot on the radio. My poor husband had to pull over, I was screaming that loud. I knew then.