3-25-08 by dugan
If the major oil companies start making deals to pump Iraqi oil, who will protect their investments? If these investments become "a fact on the ground" while the U.S. still occupies Iraq, won’t they become the responsibility of U.S. troops, and taxpayer resources? Unfortunately, it’s happening faster than most of us know.
A story that’s been too-little reported in mainstream media is major oil companies’ attempts to make individual deals with the Iraqi government. The San Francisco Chronicle’s David Baker makes up for some of that lack today with his tale of a foot-in-the-door campaign by Chevron and other major companies including BP, Exxon and Shell. Of course, Chevron won’t even admit a deal is in the offing and won’t talk to the reporter, but it’s good indirect reporting.
The story says:
"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."
An "oil law" that would hand over substantial control, especially of new discoveries, to multinational oil companies has stalled in the Iraqi parliament over both oil company control and how to divvy the proceeds among battling ethnic groups. So oil companies and Iraqi officials are looking for a way around it, especially in a time of $100 oil.
In a time where lines of authority in Iraq are uncertain, and the U.S. bears much of the responsibility for establishing security (at the cost of soldiers’ lives), there is every likelihood that a contract made by Iraqi officials will have to be fulfilled with the aid of the American military. Every obligation established now could make the end of the U.S. occupation harder. The costs of protection will fall on U.S. taxpayers, while Iraq and Chevron split the profits.
If the oil companies’ Iraq gambles end up destroyed or shut down by civil war, we can imagine what it would do to world oil prices.
Before allowing these deals to be inked, Congress needs to understand, in detail, what they mean to U.S. policy, and act according.