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« Iraq: Coalition of the Drilling (2) | Main | Iraq: Coalition of the Drilling (3) »
Monday
Oct302006

Iraq: Coalition of the Drilling (1)

(Republished on Oct. 31, because of site problems)

At first, we had the Coalition of the Willing (US-satellite states helping militarily in Iraq),
soon joined by the Coalition of the Billing (best known: Cheney's KBR-branch of Halliburton, who charge up to 60% of the price of services for consulting, security and other "overhead).

In Afghanistan, the Coalition of the Willing, transforms into the Coalition of the Killing, as they are killing blindly some dozens of 'Taliban' every week in Southern Afghanistan: Farmers, their wives and children, hit by Apache-helicopter launched cluster bombs.

But all this was only a foreplay to the Coalition of the Drilling's coming out from behind the screens. (I owe this pun to a commenter on Joshua Holland's post on AlterNet, see below).

The Coalition of the Drilling are the four big Oil Companies, formerly known as "The Seven Sisters", for mergers reduced their number from seven to four. But they are not alone: A swarm of subsidiary, servicing business, such as Oil Services Company Halliburton , were present at Vice President Dick Cheney's conference table, when he developed the infamous new energy legislation (2001/2002) for the US, in secret meetings, the details of which he consistently refuses to share with the US Congress.

After all, it has taken a long time, after the 2003 invasion, before the genuine objectives of the Iraq invasion show up in a way, so as nobody can deny them any more. Why? Some facts.

Somewhere, somehow, at the start of the post-invasion aera, somewhat has gone very wrong.

The original scenario was not an occupation of the country, but the instauration of Achmad Chalabi as "liberator" and interim president, while an American, Pentagon-appointed representative (...) was to initiate, province by province and region by region (and tribe after tribe, clan after clan), a local cleansing of Saddamists. Loyalty of the traditional chiefs, could be bought, was the idea.
Meanwhile, Chalabi was to initiate a great "reform" of the economy, to be legitimized through a referendum or a sort of loja jirga of clan chiefs. (It is only at the insistance of Ajatollah Sistani, that Bush accepted general free elections in the beginning of 2004).

Parts of that scenario, oddly enough, continued to occur, while Bremer (State Department) acted as Governor on behalf of the US as occupying power. An odd incident, was the Iraqi who acted for some days as Mayor of Bagdad. He had been appointed by Chalabi and the Pentagon before the invasion, and presumably, he had not understood, that the programme had been changed. Chalabi himself, also had to adapt to the new rules, and he did so with his well-known flexibility, betting on two or more horses at the same time (his Pentagon friends, the oil ministry, his Shiite - and his Iran connections).
The Pentagon imposes its own original scenario
What the Pentagon did, was ... denying the intentions of its president and supreme commander (but, maybe, that commander wasn't unhappy with it). It effectively isolated Bremer and his Provisional Governing Council. It just followed the scenario that had been decided before.
At first, in Bagdad, only the oil ministry was occupied (and the oil infrastructure in the country) - not the ministry of the interior (essential, if the "course" had been "democratization"), neither that of Education (idem), and least of all the ministry of Culture (so that a big part of the historical treasures in the Museums has been looted and/or destroyed). Even the Ministry of Defense in Baghdad was not really taken over, which would have been logical if the US really had been worried over "Weapons of Mass Destruction".
Barely some weeks after the occupation of Baghdad, Rumsfeld announced, that the American Army was to establish huge military bases in the country, replacing the ones in Saudi-Arabia.
That was not merely an announcement, but it told what was already going on.
A huge US military base in a former Saddam Hussein palace complex near the Baghdad Airport was constructed, including all sorts of facilities, clearly built to last for many years.

But what about the Iraqi Oil?
Officially, the US has always maintained, that "the oil revenues belong to the Iraqi people". At a moment of inattention, however, Wolfowitz (then undersecretay at the Pentagon) told Congress, that "oil was going to pay for all the costs of war and occupation". This moment of inattention was a moment of truth: During it's one year reign, the "Coalition Provisional Authority" (CPA) indeed used practically all (dwindling) oil revenues of Iraq for paying costs of occupation, security and American contractors. When the Allawi government took over, there was nothing left.

Meanwhile, at the Doha meeting of the WTA, the then Iraqi minister of economy stunned the audience, telling them, that his government was pusuing a Pinochet-like policy of complete denationalization, stimulating foreign investment, in other words a sudden and total free market policy. Like Wolfowitz, he spoke too early and too bluntly.

Hindered by the sabotage acts on the installations and pipelines, impeded also by the incompetence of Halliburton "reparations" and "upgrading", now, at last, the "great prize" of the Bush policy in Iraq is showing up.
It is told in:

AlterNet: Bush's Petro-Cartel Almost Has Iraq's Oil ( by Joshua Holland)

Iraq's oil sector remains largely undeveloped. Former Iraqi Oil Minister Issam Chalabi (no relation to the neocons' favorite exile, Ahmed Chalabi) told the Associated Press that "Iraq has more oil fields that have been discovered, but not developed, than any other country in the world." British-based analyst Mohammad Al-Gallani told the Canadian Press that of 526 prospective drilling sites, just 125 have been opened.

But the real gem -- what one oil consultant called the "Holy Grail" of the industry -- lies in Iraq's vast western desert. It's one of the last "virgin" fields on the planet, and it has the potential to catapult Iraq to No. 1 in the world in oil reserves. Sparsely populated, the western fields are less prone to sabotage than the country's current centers of production in the north, near Kirkuk, and in the south near Basra. The Nation's Aram Roston predicts Iraq's western desert will yield "untold riches."

Iraq also may have large natural gas deposits that so far remain virtually unexplored. [...]

But even "untold riches" don't tell the whole story. Depending on how Iraq's petroleum law shakes out, the country's enormous reserves could break the back of OPEC, a wet dream in Western capitals for three decades. James Paul predicted that "even before Iraq had reached its full production potential of 8 million barrels or more per day, the companies would gain huge leverage over the international oil system. OPEC would be weakened by the withdrawal of one of its key producers from the OPEC quota system." Depending on how things shape up in the next few months, Western oil companies could end up controlling the country's output levels, or the government, heavily influenced by the United States, could even pull out of the cartel entirely.
Both independent analysts and officials within Iraq's Oil Ministry anticipate that when all is said and done, the big winners in Iraq will be the Big Four -- the American firms Exxon-Mobile and Chevron, the British BP-Amoco and Royal Dutch-Shell -- that dominate the world oil market. Ibrahim Mohammed, an industry consultant with close contacts in the Iraqi Oil Ministry, told the Associated Press that there's a universal belief among ministry staff that the major U.S. companies will win the lion's share of contracts. "The feeling is that the new government is going to be influenced by the United States," he said.

How they are going to do so, and what kind of contracts they will have, is told in the second part of this article.

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