Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Oy, Oy for Oyl! 

“Oil for guaranteed political power,” eh? The Shiite ticket is coming on strong, and United Press International reports that

Companies such as Shell, Exxon and Chevron are offering all sorts of pot sweeteners to get on a refinery short list, the official said. Each one wants a "one-off" production-sharing agreement that will make it worthwhile to deal with the volatility in Iraq, including a still-changing government.

Instead, U.S. advisers are recommending that the government write a petroleum law to keep things open and transparent. "One-off" deals create conditions that encourage corruption, the official said.
"If we go contract by contract, other companies will out-bribe the United States companies, and we will lose," the official said. "We want an fair, open, equal process, and U.S. companies have better technology."

No foreign company can own land or extract natural resources under rules written by U.S. administrators after U.S. troops came into the country in April 2003.

Also still up for discussion are existing extraction contracts such as one signed by former president Saddam Hussein with Russian giant Lukoil, which has now been joined by ConocoPhillips. The current interim government has said that contract is void, but a newly elected parliament expected to be seated by the end of the month, may think otherwise. Other deals are still up for grabs.

In the meantime, Ghadban [iWaq’s Oil Minister] and an interim government "ministers' council" have approved at least six smaller refineries in recent weeks. A 30,000 barrel-per-day "package refinery" will be built in Koysenja near the northern city of Suleiymania, officials say. Another one is slated for Koya, nearby. In northern Mosul, where recent fighting kept some polls closed on Election Day, a refinery is planned to deal with crude reserves, said Asim Jihad, an oil ministry spokesman.

In the south, a new 10,000 barrel-per-day refinery recently came online in Nasriyah. A 230,000 barrel-per-day refinery is to be built in Najaf, a Shiite Muslim religious site, and another in Musayab.

So, we make sure the Shia gain power, make sure the bidding process is “fair” (i.e., American companies get the contracts), and make sure that Najaf gets a refinery, too. (Hey, sorry about that whole holy shrine thing, y’know…oopsie!) (Now, of course, the Kurds get theirs, too, but autonomy? Well…) (And the Sunni are all okay with this because, well, heck, they lost the election fair and square…)

In other words, except for the whole ugly “royal family” thing (the Brits already tried that in their mideast colonies, recall), the “New iWaq” really looks a lot Saudi Arabia. Or is it more like Iran? Maybe there’ll be kinder, gentler imams and ayatollahs in the New iWaq. But this New iWaq will be where? In the south? North? My, my… who’d-a thunk it? Fighting over the oil carcass while others protect your interests. Where’d they learn behavior like that? Harken? Halliburton?

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