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What Does Iraq’s New Oil Law Say About an Invasion?

Cody Lyon, OhmyNews
Amman, Jordan, is set to play host to a three-day economic trade show, a corporate meet and greet between powerful, well-moneyed investors and those who the guard the gates of vital decision-making government ministries in perilous but oil-rich Iraq.

On its Web site, loosely defined organizer Iraq Development Program (IDP) calls the Jordan gathering a “historic landmark event” Officially titled the Iraq Oil, Gas, Petrochemical and Electricity Summit, the three days of face to face meetings that begins on May 28 could impact Iraq’s economic future for years to come.

Efforts to contact IDP directly and understand the origin of their funding and purpose were not successful. But the group’s stated mission is to “aid Iraq as an economic force.”

PSAs are a primary incentive of the oil laws. According to the International Energy Agency, 12 percent of the world’s oil reserves are subject to PSAs.

“This would completely break from normal practice in the region where all the major oil producing industries are in the public sector,” said Greg Muttit, co-director of the British research and watchdog organization, Platform London. Muttit said Iraq would be the only major Middle Eastern oil-producing nation where production is controlled by foreign companies.

Platform London’s Unraveling the Carbon Web project states that it seeks to reduce the environmental and social impact of oil corporations and help citizens gain a say in decisions that affect them.

According to Muttit, oil companies have been lobbying hard to get what they want in Iraq by working with both the U.S. and U.K. governments, and through the International Tax and Investment Center (ITIC). ..
(8 Apr 2007)

Getting tough with the petro-elites

Thorsten Benner and Ricardo Soares de Oliveira, International Herald Tribune
The world’s fastest growing source of oil is West Africa. The United States imports more crude from West Africa than from Saudi Arabia and Kuwait combined; Angola has become China’s biggest supplier; the European Union imports almost one fifth of its oil from Africa.

The African petrodollars, however, benefit only kleptocratic elites. Angola is a case in point. Five years after the end of the civil war, people are still waiting for a development dividend from the country’s oil riches while Luanda’s elite is awash in oil cash.

The word is out on the “oil curse.” But there is nothing (super)natural about the mismanagement of Africa’s oil revenues. It is the direct result of the longstanding partnership between oil producing states, oil companies and consumers. As long as Africa supplies the oil, no further questions asked. ..

Campaigns against “blood oil” have been a non-starter thus far. As long as the majority of Western consumers do not demand “development oil” at the pump, the agenda promoting transparency and good governance lacks a critical driving force. ..

Thorsten Benner is co-founder and associate director of the Global Public Policy Institute (GPPi) in Berlin. Ricardo Soares de Oliveira, author of “Oil and Politics in the Gulf of Guinea,” is a fellow at Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge and at GPPi.
(10 Apr 2007)

Disposable Workers of the Oil and Gas Fields

Ray Ring, High Country News
Recommended by Stephanie Paige Ogburn who writes in Gristmill (Apr 9):

It’s harder to view oil and gas workers as disposable when their stories are told. And that’s what Ray Ring does in the latest issue of High Country News. In a special report, Ring painstakingly documents the stories of oil and gas boom workers who have lost their lives and limbs in the past six years, all in the service of cheap energy.

I won’t quote much here, since the story simply must be read, but here’s an small excerpt:

Workers get crushed by rig collapses, they fall off the steel ledges and the maze of catwalks and ladders and walkways, they get caught in spinning chains, winches and cables. Sometimes they get strangled by their own fall-protection harnesses. On or off the rigs, they handle flammables, and sometimes they get fireballed. They succumb to poisonous hydrogen sulfide, which occurs in natural gas before it’s processed; one whiff is fatal. They get slammed by valves and pipes that explode under high pressure. They get hit by lightning, freeze to death and die of heat stroke, because the work takes place outside, and it goes on 24/7, 365 days a year, pretty much no matter what.

And Ring documents and tells all these stories in all their painful, gruesome, and important detail.

Other great reports have been written on the human costs of the Interior West’s oil and gas boom, many in the HCN’s pages, but Ring’s 10,000-word odyssey is one of the best I’ve read. He uses FOIAed information as well as personal accounts to craft a truly compelling narrative. There’s a heartbreaking and poignant table listing all 89 deaths and their causes along with the article, and a photo gallery as well. If you live out West, I recommend picking up a copy in a bookstore, or if you don’t and are interested, you should contact HCN’s circulation department to ask for one — the print version is just that much better.
(2 April 2007)

It’s all different now
A combination of stubbornly high costs and softer commodity prices offers little hope for a service sector rebound.

David Yagar, Oilweek Canada
“It’s different this time.” As the conventional oil and gas service sector enters what is sure to be a very slow spring breakup and summer, not much looks different to me.

Excess equipment. Not enough work. Falling prices. Laid-off workers. Service companies with too much debt in financial difficulty. Unkind, and often unprintable, words spoken about our oil company customers. After 35 years in the oilfield service business, I’ve seen this movie so many times I’ve memorized the script.

The current mantra is that by the fourth quarter of 2007, 2008 at the latest, shrinking gas production and reserves will push prices higher and force our clients to drill more wells and put excess service capacity back to work.
Hopefully, the source of this optimism is different from all those who assured us the last boom would run for years.

It’s different this time all right, but in the wrong direction. There are many factors that make it highly unlikely the conventional oil service sector will soon experience the prosperity it enjoyed from 2003 to 2006. ..
(Apr 2007)