January 11, 2010
Blood for Oil Chronicles
But here's a quick refresher courtesy of Gore Vidal, who really connected the dots for us back in October 2002 by writing in The Nation that the May 2001 "National Energy Policy report, known as the Cheney Report," warned about our growing need for imported oil. "Then, coincidentally, if not conspiratorially, 9/11 happened." This led, of course, to the invasion of Iraq. "Iraqi oil reserves are vast, and ... Worth a try? Worth a war? We'll see."
In 2007, Antonia Juhasz of the Huffington Post predicted that "[a]s a result of the invasion, if [Iraq's new] oil law passes, U.S. oil companies will emerge as the corporate front-runners in line for contracts giving them control over the vast majority of Iraq's oil under some of the most corporate-friendly terms in the world for twenty to thirty-five years."
And Britain's Independent newspaper agreed that the oil companies are "desperate to get a foot in the door" and feast on Iraq's rich oil reserves.
And while there is strong popular support among the Iraqi people for the notion of complete national control of the oil and its profits, the Iraqi government know that their "shattered" oil industry is "desperately short" of "modern technology and expertise" that only foreign oil giants can provide.
The first round of bidding on Iraqi oil contracts took place in June of 2008. At the time, Matthew Weather of the Guardian newspaper in Britain also predicted that the companies "expected" to win these lucrative contracts included Shell, BP, Exxon Mobil, Chevron, and Total. "Non-Western companies, notably those in Russia, are expected to lose out."
At the same time, Wolf Blitzer asked, "Given the hundreds of billions of dollars the United States has spent to rebuild that country and try to bring some stability to the Iraqis, why not have them export oil to the United States at a reduced price?" The question reveals that at least one prominent lefty journalist was in favor of this blood-for-oil business.
But sadly for his hopes, the first round of the blood-for-oil festival "flopped as Iraq secured just one deal with BP (British Petroleum) out of eight oil and gas fields put out to tender."
The second round of bidding for oil contracts concluded in mid-December. The Independent told its readers that Exxon was "seen by insiders as the frontrunner to nab the rights to the [super giant] Majnoon [oil] field."
But the winner was the Anglo-Dutch oil giant Shell, in partnership with a Malaysian oil firm. Russian and Norwegian firms also won contracts.
"None of the U.S. supermajors like Exxon Mobil Corp. or Chevron submitted bids," the AP reported.
"'We just decided not to bid,' Richard C. Vierbuchen, president of Exxon Mobil Upstream Ventures (West) Ltd., told The Associated Press. He did not elaborate."
Forbes opined that "it's becoming increasingly clear that the rewards of Iraq will have a hard time justifying the risks. The Iraqi contacts will pay oil companies roughly $2 per barrel of oil recovered. That's not much upside potential to justify dealing with political instability and security nightmares."
Exxon instead is focusing on developing its natural gas business.
"The fools of the world," John Derbyshire concluded. "We are the fools of the world."