An Iraq War Milestone

Reports of success stemming from the U.S. military's surge campaign to finally crush the terrorist violence in Iraq have been numerous, but one little remarked development may be more significant than the press supposes. In late September, convoys of tanker trucks were once again crossing the western desert to deliver crude oil to Jordan's refinery complex at Zarqa. 

Before the 2003 invasion, Iraq sent thousands of tanker trucks each day on this important export outlet, but security concerns in Anbar province have until now kept the trucks parked.

Iraq's only reliable shipment point since 2003 for its oil has been south, through the port of Basra. A major export pipeline from Kirkuk to the Turkish port of Ceyhan has been continually attacked and only operated sporadically.

Unfortunately, some of the attacks on this pipeline have also been attributed to local truckers not terrorists, hoping to shut down a competitor.

Iraq has also been in discussions to build controversial export pipelines to Iran and Syria. The capacity will be needed if Iraq can start to realize its oil producing potential. Right now it's lucky to export 2 million barrels of crude oil a day, because the security situation has hobbled revitalization of infrastructure. With a fairly minimal investment, however, most energy experts believe Iraq could be exporting 6 million barrels a day and having a major impact on world energy prices -- if only there was some way to ship it all out.

That's where the tanker trucks come in. Oil pipelines are expensive, take years to build and can be knocked off line with one small attack. Truck convoys though, can be assembled quickly in almost limitless sizes, and heavily guarded. A terrorist attack, even if successful, can only destroy a few trucks at a time and not hinder the rest. Also, most of the route itself on Iraq's Highway 10 is across empty desert, with few local villages for attackers to hide in ambush.

If a large scale energy corridor can be developed across Iraq from the Kurdish oil fields west to Jordan and its refineries and ports, the economic benefits would be enormous. The Sunni tribes along this path would have every incentive to want to keep the peace and the resulting trucking and oil patch jobs. A friendly Arab country, Jordan, would also be a significant part of this prosperity. And while Israel has not unfortunately been granted diplomatic or trade recognition with Iraq, it does have excellent commercial relations with Jordan and would greatly benefit indirectly, as well.

Let's wish these new desert convoys Godspeed and Keep on Truckin'.

Frank Friday is an attorney in Louisville Ky.
Reports of success stemming from the U.S. military's surge campaign to finally crush the terrorist violence in Iraq have been numerous, but one little remarked development may be more significant than the press supposes. In late September, convoys of tanker trucks were once again crossing the western desert to deliver crude oil to Jordan's refinery complex at Zarqa. 

Before the 2003 invasion, Iraq sent thousands of tanker trucks each day on this important export outlet, but security concerns in Anbar province have until now kept the trucks parked.

Iraq's only reliable shipment point since 2003 for its oil has been south, through the port of Basra. A major export pipeline from Kirkuk to the Turkish port of Ceyhan has been continually attacked and only operated sporadically.

Unfortunately, some of the attacks on this pipeline have also been attributed to local truckers not terrorists, hoping to shut down a competitor.

Iraq has also been in discussions to build controversial export pipelines to Iran and Syria. The capacity will be needed if Iraq can start to realize its oil producing potential. Right now it's lucky to export 2 million barrels of crude oil a day, because the security situation has hobbled revitalization of infrastructure. With a fairly minimal investment, however, most energy experts believe Iraq could be exporting 6 million barrels a day and having a major impact on world energy prices -- if only there was some way to ship it all out.

That's where the tanker trucks come in. Oil pipelines are expensive, take years to build and can be knocked off line with one small attack. Truck convoys though, can be assembled quickly in almost limitless sizes, and heavily guarded. A terrorist attack, even if successful, can only destroy a few trucks at a time and not hinder the rest. Also, most of the route itself on Iraq's Highway 10 is across empty desert, with few local villages for attackers to hide in ambush.

If a large scale energy corridor can be developed across Iraq from the Kurdish oil fields west to Jordan and its refineries and ports, the economic benefits would be enormous. The Sunni tribes along this path would have every incentive to want to keep the peace and the resulting trucking and oil patch jobs. A friendly Arab country, Jordan, would also be a significant part of this prosperity. And while Israel has not unfortunately been granted diplomatic or trade recognition with Iraq, it does have excellent commercial relations with Jordan and would greatly benefit indirectly, as well.

Let's wish these new desert convoys Godspeed and Keep on Truckin'.

Frank Friday is an attorney in Louisville Ky.