War for Oil?

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ALEXANDER MELEAGROU-HITCHENS

Tomorrow, a rag-tag army of poorly informed students, unemployed people, members of fringe Socialist parties and Islamists will descend upon Westminster in what may be their final chance to call Tony Blair a liar when he arrives to give his testimony to the Chilcot inquiry.

Rather ironically, this mass of dreadlocked unemployed people may well prevent me from getting into my office, which sits just a stone’s throw away from the QE II Conference Centre.   Less ironic – but even more annoying – will be the slogans that will either be emblazoned on their t-shirts or on the plaques they will be waving.  One of these is likely to be something like ‘no war for oil’, ‘no blood for oil’ or ‘Blair loves oil’ (granted, the last one is probably not that likely).  Ignoring for a moment that it is probably a good thing that one of the world’s best oil reserves are no longer under the sole ownership of a despot, the claim that the Iraq war was orchestrated by American oil companies is now demonstrably false.  In mid December last year Reuters reported the following news about the Iraqi Oil Ministry’s auction for oil deals:

The Oil Ministry on Saturday ended its second bidding round after awarding seven of the oilfields offered for development, adding to deals from a first auction in June that could together take Iraq up to a capacity to pump 12 million barrels per day.

[…]Russia’s Lukoil on Saturday clinched a deal to develop Iraq’s supergiant West Qurna Phase Two oilfield after having failed to convince Iraq to bypass the auction and revive an old Saddam Hussein-era deal for the field.

[…]Only one U.S. firm bid in the second round, and of the four fields bid on by U.S. firms in the first round, only Exxon Mobil won a major prize, leading a group to clinch a deal for the supergiant West Qurna Phase One field.

U.S.-based Occidental came away with a quarter stake in a consortium that won a contract for the giant Zubair field.

By contrast, Chinese state oil firms were involved in every first round bid and made a strong showing in the second.

[…]”We haven’t really seen U.S. companies, and that is because of intense competition … The issue is financial and technical and not at all political. This confirms Iraq can manage its oil policy and activities without politicization,” said Thamir Ghadhban, a prime ministerial advisor and former oil minister.

Not only have private US oil firms failed to land any major contracts, but Russia, a country that vehemently opposed the toppling of its business partner Saddam Hussein, has secured one of the most lucrative contracts.  Will we now see a noble climb-down by the Stop the War Coalition/Muslim Brotherhood alliance? Not likely.

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