Proposed Iraq Oil Law Gives Undiscovered Oil To Foreign Companies

An End Run Around The Iraqi Parliament. With the proposed Iraq oil law (which gives Iraq’s “undiscovered” – cough – oil to foreign oil companies) stalled by the rearguard action being fought by the Iraqi parliament, the oil majors are instead trying to get some US style “democracy” happening and getting the oil ministry to give them access to existing oil fields without parliamentary approval – Chevron reportedly in talks to tap Iraq’s oil. Chevron Corp. and other international oil companies are negotiating with the Iraq Ministry of Oil to begin tapping into some of the country’s largest oil fields, according to published reports. Specifically, the companies are negotiating for two-year contracts that would help Iraq boost production at existing oil fields. For years, the companies have had their eyes on long-term contracts to find and develop new oil fields in Iraq, which is believed to hold the world’s third-largest oil reserves. The contracts under discussion are far more limited than that, but they represent an important step in opening Iraq’s oil industry to foreign involvement after years of state control. San Ramon’s Chevron already has held discussions with the Iraqi Oil Ministry about one of the short-term contracts, according to reports in the Associated Press, Dow Jones, Reuters and United Press International news services. BP, Exxon Mobil, Shell and Total also are pursuing the contracts. … But efforts to increase production and develop new fields have been stymied by Iraqi politics, as well as the widespread belief among Iraqis that the United States toppled Hussein to gain control of the country’s oil. … The short-term contracts, called technical support agreements, may be an attempt by the Oil Ministry to make an end-run around legislators. The Iraqi Cabinet reportedly approved the move. “It was a way to get things going without calling it a production agreement,” said Frank Verrastro, director of the energy program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. … The proposed oil law has often come under criticism from anti-war activists, who fear that the Iraqi government will be pressured into handing over too much control of its oil. The short-term agreements may not assuage those fears. “My concern with these agreements is that they appear to be more than anything else a foot in the door, an opening for the oil companies while debate rages on over the long-term contracts,” said Antonia Juhasz, author of “The Bush Agenda: Invading the World One Economy at a Time.” “It’s for the Iraqis to decide the appropriate role of U.S. oil corporations in Iraq,” she said. “The only time to be able to have this kind of negotiation is when there’s no longer an occupation.” ((20 SEP 2010))




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