Whose oil is it, anyway?
The plan is to buddies of Dick Cheney
Vice president of Oil and Munitions
Internationsl Herald Tribune
Until about 35 years ago, the
world's oil was largely in the hands of seven corporations based in the
They are among the world's largest and most powerful financial empires. But ever since they lost their exclusive control of the oil to the governments, the companies have been trying to get it back.
A new oil law set to go
before the Iraqi Parliament this month would — if passed — go a long way toward
helping the oil companies achieve their goal. The law would take the majority of
In March 2001, the National Energy Policy Development Group (better known as Vice President Dick Cheney's energy task force), which included executives of America's largest energy companies, recommended that the United States government support initiatives by Middle Eastern countries "to open up areas of their energy sectors to foreign investment."
One invasion and a great deal
of political engineering by the Bush administration later, this is exactly what
It does so to the benefit of
the companies, but to the great detriment of
Since the invasion of
The administration has highlighted the law's revenue-sharing plan, under which the central Iraqi government would distribute oil revenues throughout the nation on a per capita basis.
But the benefits of this
excellent proposal are radically undercut by the law's many other provisions —
these allow much (if not most) of
The law would transform Iraq's oil industry from a nationalized model closed to American oil companies except for limited (although highly lucrative) marketing contracts, into a commercial industry, all-but-privatized, that is fully open to all international oil companies.
The Iraq National Oil Company would have exclusive control of just 17 of Iraq's 80 known oil fields, leaving two-thirds of known — and all of its as yet undiscovered — fields open to foreign control.
The foreign companies would
not have to invest their earnings in the Iraqi economy, partner with Iraqi
companies, hire Iraqi workers or share new technologies. They could even ride
The vast majority of
The international oil
companies could also be offered some of the most corporate-friendly contracts in
the world, including what are called production-sharing agreements. These
agreements are the oil industry's preferred model, but are roundly rejected by
all the top oil producing countries in the Middle East because they grant
long-term contracts (20 to 35 years in the case of
Iraqis may very well choose to use the expertise and experience of international oil companies. They are most likely to do so in a manner that best serves their own needs if they are freed from the tremendous external pressure being exercised by the Bush administration, the oil corporations — and the presence of 140,000 members of the American military.
They ask for more time, less pressure and a chance at the democracy they have been promised.
Antonia Juhasz, an analyst with Oil Change International, a watchdog group, is the author of "The Bush Agenda: Invading the World, One Economy at a Time."