Friday, September 07, 2007

Dirty pretty things

Scott Ritter's latest, Reporting from Baghdad, rails on Katie Couric and her voguing in Iraq, but contains a little blurb about oil company activity that I hadn't heard elsewhere. Deciding that waiting for the Iraqi parliament to pass the Oil Law they likely never will, oil companies are already operating there.
If Couric would visit the Iraqi Oil Ministry, she might be shocked to witness the legal maneuvering and exploitation carried out by foreign oil companies (including, directly or indirectly, American oil companies).

Working with local Kurdish officials, small oil exploration and drilling camps are sprouting up all over northern Iraq, where they siphon off the wealth of the Iraqi people. Shipped out of Iraq via Turkey and (surprisingly) Iran, using long-established smuggling routes, these illegal ventures are generating billions of dollars in income for oil companies, and because these ventures aren't supposed to exist, this income goes unreported. You can't miss these sites. Any review of Google-Earth imagery would show these facilities springing up like mushrooms over the last few years. The U.S. military knows about them, and yet does nothing. Note to Richard Kaplan (Katie Couric's producer): If you want to investigate this story, I'll provide you with the geographic coordinates. Drive up and try to talk your way into the security perimeter. Position Katie well for the camera shot and demand answers. Just look out for the Canadian, South African or American mercenaries who are charged by "Big Oil" to keep this dirty little secret "secret."
In fact, an initial foray of this activity was reported a year and a half ago, with the Kurds taking things into their own hands and dealing with Norwegian oil company, DNO.
A controversial oil exploration deal between Iraq's autonomy-minded Kurds and a Norwegian company got underway this week without the approval of the central government here, raising a potentially explosive issue at a time of heightened ethnic and sectarian tensions.

The Kurdistan Democratic Party, which controls a portion of the semiautonomous Kurdish enclave in northern Iraq, last year quietly signed a deal with Norway's DNO to drill for oil near the border city of Zakho.
Considering all the other explosions in Iraq, this Kurdish move appears not to have been quite as "explosive" as initially imagined and looks to have led to more activity. This was a singular deal, which has obviously sprouted many more, as Ritter indicates. Given that the US occupation has been in no position to dictate any behaviour to the Kurds, it seems clear that US interests were best served by getting in on the action in Kurdistan before non-US interests started staking out the lion's share of the oil contracts, contracts that are now run under the Kurds own recently passed oil law.

Indeed, well before the Kurdish regional oil was passed, American-based Calibre Energy Inc. and Hawler Energy Ltd., both of Houston, Tx., entered into a Production Sharing Agreement (PSA) with the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) at about the same time as DNO started drilling. Confirming what Ritter has said, PSA operations are overseen by Turkish-based Petoil, which no doubt expedites safe passage of the oil through Turkey.

As an aside, whenever I see the words "Houston," "oil" and "Iraq" in conjunction, a strain of curiosity sets in, which naturally leads to a little Googling. As an interesting point of information, Calibre Energy is run by CEO Prentis Tomlinson, who is also Chairman and Director. Tomlinson is also the founder and still large stockholder of the company Particle Drilling Technologies, Inc., a company of which Dick Cheney owns a significant amount of stock. The current president and CEO of Particle Drilling Technologies is Jim Terry, who served as a Director at Halliburton while Dick Cheney was CEO. Chairman of the Board at Particle Drilling Technologies is a one Ken LeSuer, who served as Vice Chairman at Halliburton while Cheney was CEO.

Interestingly, while the official position of the US government was that no deals would be made outside federal Iraqi government auspices, the State Department delivered a "scolding" to Tomlinson, at which Tomlinson apparently winked, and went on his merry drill-happy way. Meanwhile, Calibre Energy and other American firms appear undeterred in their exploration and drilling of northern Iraq despite official State Department policy. But then, isn't that always how it is with Dick Cheney?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have also read Ritter's Piece, and thanks for helping get stories like these out there. Do you know where I could find the coordinates for any of these drilling sites? Any help would be great! Thanks and keep up the good work.

6:47 PM  
Blogger theBhc said...

Well, they are drilling in the Bina-Bawi structure, which is "a 28-kilometer by 7-kilometer anticline immediately northwest of the Taq-Taq Field where Genel Enerji and Addax Petroleum recently announced test results from the Taq-Taq 4 well which flowed at an initial aggregate maximum rate of 29,790 barrels per day from three separate reservoir intervals in the Cretaceous."

If you can figure out where that is, that is where they are. Google Earth might be of some help.

2:16 AM  
Blogger theBhc said...


This is in the Arbil (Erbil) province of Kurdistan, near the Iranian border in northeast Iraq. You can see it here:

Iraq Map with 18 Provinces or Governorates

10:56 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Petoil a Turkish company signed the agreement with the Kurds. Calibre bought an interest later.

The link for "a company of which Dick Cheney owns a significant amount of stock" acually takes you to a form 8-k filing in which Dick Cheney's name is mentioned as a former boss of one of the directors. It doesn't say anything about him owning any shares of particle drilling.

Just an fyi form "4"s register stock ownership not form "8-k"s.

11:04 PM  
Anonymous even more anonymous said...

Tomlinson once owned a company that grossed $2 billion in one year, then went belly up after a $75 million illegal trading fine. Interestingly, a search of his political contributions show that he has contributed the maximum allowable amount to the Obama campaign in 2008.

5:06 PM  

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