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Click on the headline (link) for the full text.

Many more articles are available through the Energy Bulletin homepage

What Congress Really Approved: Benchmark No. 1: Privatizing Iraq’s Oil for US Companies

Ann Wright, truthout
On Thursday, May 24, the US Congress voted to continue the war in Iraq. The members called it “supporting the troops.” I call it stealing Iraq’s oil – the second largest reserves in the world. The “benchmark,” or goal, the Bush administration has been working on furiously since the US invaded Iraq is privatization of Iraq’s oil. Now they have Congress blackmailing the Iraqi Parliament and the Iraqi people: no privatization of Iraqi oil, no reconstruction funds.

This threat could not be clearer. If the Iraqi Parliament refuses to pass the privatization legislation, Congress will withhold US reconstruction funds that were promised to the Iraqis to rebuild what the United States has destroyed there. The privatization law, written by American oil company consultants hired by the Bush administration, would leave control with the Iraq National Oil Company for only 17 of the 80 known oil fields. The remainder (two-thirds) of known oil fields, and all yet undiscovered ones, would be up for grabs by the private oil companies of the world (but guess how many would go to United States firms – given to them by the compliant Iraqi government.)

No other nation in the Middle East has privatized its oil. Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain and Iran give only limited usage contracts to international oil companies for one or two years. The $12 billion dollar “Support the Troops” legislation passed by Congress requires Iraq, in order to get reconstruction funds from the United States, to privatize its oil resources and put them up for long term (20- to 30-year) contracts.

What does this “Support the Troops” legislation mean for the United States military? Supporting our troops has nothing to do with this bill, other than keeping them there for another 30 years to protect US oil interests. It means that every military service member will need Arabic language training. It means that every soldier and Marine would spend most of his or her career in Iraq. It means that the fourteen permanent bases will get new Taco Bells and Burger Kings! Why? Because the US military will be protecting the US corporate oilfields leased to US companies by the compliant Iraqi government. Our troops will be the guardians of US corporate interests in Iraq for the life of the contracts – for the next thirty years.

Ann Wright served 29 years in the US Army and US Army Reserves and retired as a colonel. She served 16 years in the US diplomatic corps in Nicaragua, Grenada, Somalia, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Sierra Leone, Afghanistan, Micronesia and Mongolia. She resigned from the US Department of State in March, 2003 in opposition to the war on Iraq.
(26 May 2007)
Recommended by Big Gav.

UK presses Norway to direct new gas pipeline to Scotland

Sylvia Pfeifer, Sunday Telegraph
The Government, backed by Britain’s leading power groups, has launched a high-profile lobbying effort to persuade Norway to build a vital gas export pipeline to the UK rather than to continental Europe.

Gas from the new pipeline is considered crucial if Britain is to have access to a diverse range of energy supplies, especially from a politically stable country such as Norway. With a capacity of more than 20bn cubic metres a year, the pipeline would be capable of meeting around 18 per cent of Britain’s gas demand by the time it came online in 2012.

It would also help reduce Britain’s reliance on gas imports from Russia which come via the Continent. President Putin’s government has come under fire for cutting off supplies to several former Soviet bloc countries which disrupted exports to western Europe. ..

With Britain moving from being a net exporter of gas to a net importer, securing energy supplies is vital. In last week’s Energy White Paper the Government finally paved the way for a new generation of nuclear power plants, arguing these were necessary if Britain is not to face a growing energy gap. The Government predicts that by 2010, imports of gas could be meeting up to a third or more of the UK’s total gas demand, potentially rising to around 80 per cent by 2020. Direct imports from Norway are expected to provide up to a third of UK supplies by 2020, much of it through the existing Langeled pipeline. ..
(26 May 2007)

Japan Infiltrates the Middle East

Shirzad Azad, OhnyNews
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s recent Middle East tour was the second trip to the region by a Japanese prime minister in less than 16 months. By visiting five Arab nations in a single trip and pursuing a wide range of economic, political and strategic objectives for his country, Abe opened a new chapter in Japan’s Middle East policy.

Tokyo’s desire for a stable supply of energy has run up against its other foreign policy objectives. While Tokyo was a big supporter of the Bush administration’s invasion of Iraq, it is uncomfortable with Washington’s hard-line approach toward Iran. After all, Iran is Japan’s third-largest supplier of crude oil. As it angles to become a more moderating influence in Middle East politics, Japan may find itself butting heads more often with the United States.

Topping Abe’s agenda on his recent trip was seeking new ways of securing energy supplies for Japan. Tokyo has long been dependent on the Middle East for most of its oil imports, and Japan’s increased demand for natural gas is likely to deepen its dependence on that turbulent and volatile region. Japan is the world’s largest importer of natural gas, and roughly 90 percent of its oil needs come from the Middle East. Japan is worried that the emergence of newly energy-hungry economies of Asia, especially China and India, may challenge its long-term access to crude oil and natural gas in the countries surrounding the Persian Gulf area.

Japan has many good reasons to worry about the supply of its economy’s lifeblood.
(26 May 2007)

About 70 pct of Iran oil income in non-U.S. dollar

Peg Mackey, Reuters
Iran, embroiled in a row with Washington over its nuclear program, has increased the amount of its oil export earnings in currencies other than U.S. dollars to about 70 percent, an Iranian official said on Saturday.

The figure is up from 60 percent cited in March for Iran’s non-dollar oil export income and reflects the No. 2 OPEC producer’s policy of reducing exposure to the greenback.

“About 70 percent of our oil export income is now in currencies other than the U.S. dollar,” Hojjatollah Ghanimifard, international affairs director of the state-owned National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC), told Reuters.

…Iranian officials have said they are seeking to limit dollar-denominated trade. The central bank governor has said Iran was seeking to “distance” itself from dollars and held just 20 percent of its foreign reserves in the U.S. currency.
(26 May 2007)