Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Hiro:How the Bush Administration's Iraqi Oil Grab Went Awry

Before I head off to Amsterdam for a week, here is today's must read. Fun facts about the Bush administration, Iraq's oil and how those grand schemes have been turned awry, Dilip Hiro smacks one out of the park as he puts Greenspan's comment in context; the comment in his book, that is, not his ridiculous backpedaling about the "Straits of Hormuz."
... the top item on the agenda of the National Security Council's first meeting after Bush entered the Oval Office was Iraq. That was January 30, 2001, more than seven months before the 9/11 attacks. The next National Security Council (NSC) meeting on February 1st was devoted exclusively to Iraq.

Advocating "going after Saddam" during the January 30 meeting, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said, according to O'Neill, "Imagine what the region would look like without Saddam and with a regime that's aligned with U.S. interests. It would change everything in the region and beyond. It would demonstrate what U.S. policy is all about." He then discussed post-Saddam Iraq -- the Kurds in the north, the oil fields, and the reconstruction of the country's economy. (Suskind, p. 85)

Among the relevant documents later sent to NSC members, including O'Neill, was one prepared by the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA). It had already mapped Iraq's oil fields and exploration areas, and listed American corporations likely to be interested in participating in Iraq's petroleum industry.

Another DIA document in the package, entitled "Foreign Suitors for Iraqi Oilfield Contracts," listed companies from 30 countries -- France, Germany, Russia, and Britain, among others -- their specialties and bidding histories. The attached maps pinpointed "super-giant oil field," "other oil field," and "earmarked for production sharing," and divided the basically undeveloped but oil-rich southwest of Iraq into nine blocks, indicating promising areas for future exploration.
(read it all)
This is not to say that the Bush administration and -- to borrow a phrase directly from the draft of the Iraq Oil Law -- "executive managers from important related petroleum companies" cannot recover from the present difficulties. Hunt Oil demonstrated at least a halting ability to get PSAs signed in Kurdistan.



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