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Oily Truth Emerges in Iraq

Juan Gonzalez, NY Daily News via Common Dreams
…Now comes new evidence of the big prize in Iraq that rarely gets mentioned at White House briefings.

A proposed new Iraqi oil and gas law began circulating last week among that country’s top government leaders and was quickly leaked to various Internet sites – before it has even been presented to the Iraqi parliament.

Under the proposed law, Iraq’s immense oil reserves would not simply be opened to foreign oil exploration, as many had expected. Amazingly, executives from those companies would actually be given seats on a new Federal Oil and Gas Council that would control all of Iraq’s reserves.

In other words, Chevron, ExxonMobil, British Petroleum and the other Western oil giants could end up on the board of directors of the Iraqi Federal Oil and Gas Council, while Iraq’s own national oil company would become just another competitor.

The new law would grant the council virtually all power to develop policies and plans for undeveloped oil fields and to review and change all exploration and production contracts.

Since most of Iraq’s 73 proven petroleum fields have yet to be developed, the new council would instantly become a world energy powerhouse.

“We’re talking about trillions of dollars of oil that are at stake,” said Raed Jarrar, an independent Iraqi journalist and blogger who obtained an Arabic copy of the draft law and posted an English-language translation on his Web site over the weekend.
(22 Feb 2007)

Somalia: An Oily Cliché

David Barouski, ZNet
Today, it is a reflexive cliché to claim the United States (U.S.) is off on another oil-acquisition conquest anytime they invade an Arabic nation. In the case of Somalia, the cliché may neverless be true. While undoubtedly, the U.S. and its Ethiopian proxy conqured Somalia and “liberated” it from the clutches of Al-Qaeda primarily for geostrategic reasons (possible launching point to attack Iran, more friendly territory close to Arabic Sudan, more ports under their control, a possible regional base for the AFRICOM command post, potential launching points to protect the Strait of Hormuz [the primary shipping point of Middle Eastern oil], etc), Somalia is awash in unspoken oil and provides a tantalizing business opportunity.

Perhaps We Had Better Start From the Beginning…

The story begins in 1990, just prior to the horrible famine of almost Biblical porportions that claimed thousands of innocent lives in Somalia. Mohamed Said Barre was in charge of the country. Barre signed of nearly two-thirds of his country to Conoco, Amoco, Chevron, and Phillips (this was prior to the Conoco-Phillips merger). Unfortunately for them, Barre was overthrown by Mohammed Farah Aideed of the rival Hebr Gedr clan in January 1991 and launched a civil war shortly thereafter.

After Aideed started the civil war, the oil giants were unable to work their concessions for two reasons.
(23 Feb 2007)

Africa Tops Mideast As US Crude Source

Staff, Dow Jones
When it comes to supplying the U.S with oil, Africa is quietly trumping the Middle East.

U.S. crude oil imports from Africa topped supplies from the Middle East in 2006 for the first time in 21 years, government data show. As recently as 2001, U.S. imports from the Middle East topped African supplies by more than 10%, or 1.3 million barrels a day. Now, the fractional edge given to African crude oil suppliers in the world’s largest consumer of oil underscores a number of market changes and may grow wider in coming years. ..

The Bush administration is the most recent proponent of a long-held U.S. policy that has called for more emphasis on regional oil suppliers, outside of the Middle East, the volatile region that produces the most oil and holds the bulk of reserves. But market factors, more than government action, have played a major role in the trend.

In response to rapid growth in Asian markets, major producers such as Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest oil exporter, and other Middle East producers have targeted more volumes to China and India, where in many cases they’ve also built joint ventures to sell petroleum products. ..
(21 Feb 2007)