The Iraqi cabinet have now approved a draft of the much anticipated Oil Law. It does not appear that the Iraqi parliament will be a great impediment in enacting the law, a vaguely worded document that conveniently metes out responsibility for contract approval to a Federal Oil and Gas Council, which will comprise various Iraqi officals and "executive managers" of "important related petroleum companies." Lots of approving pronouncements are spilling forth from various Iraqi and US officials; the law will be a source of national unity and, in the words of US Ambassador to Iraq, Zalmay Khalilzad, it is "a significant political achievement."
It does appear that some regional control of contract awards will be tolerated but the FOGC will be the final arbiter of any and all contracts. Revenue sharing in the regions will be done on a per capita basis, that is, whatever revenue is left after the oil companies take their expected sizable cut. There is reason to believe that cut will sizable, indeed.
Of particular interest will be just how meddlesome the FOGC proves to be. Both China and Russia have contracts dating from Hussein's regime. Whether those rising competitors for Middle East oil manage to succor favour from the FOGC should prove a test of the efficacy of Bush's "vision." It is far too early to tell just how this will shake out, but things should get very interesting when the contracts start getting doled out.
Meanwhile, we also learn that
few people seem to have noticed is that Gen. David Petraeus’s new “surge” plan is committing U.S. troops, day by day, to a much deeper and longer-term role in policing Iraq than since the earliest days of the U.S. occupation. How long must we stay under the Petraeus plan? Perhaps 10 years.We are told, of course, that this long and deep role is all about security. In one sense, that is certainly true. After all, the oil companies "need a safe environment to operate."