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Oil & geopolitics - Aug 3

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Review: Linda McQuaig's It's the Crude, Dude

Stephen Lendman, ZNet
...Her last book before her latest one is ... titled "It's the Crude, Dude: war, big oil, and the fight for the planet." It's no secret America's wars in the Middle East and Central Asia are to control what a Franklin Roosevelt State Department spokesman in 1945 called a "stupendous source of strategic power, and one of the greatest material prizes in world history" - the huge amount of Middle East oil with most of it believed to be in Saudi Arabia then. With it goes veto power over how it's distributed, to whom, at what price, for whose benefit and at whose expense. Today, one country above all others may be that "greatest material prize" making it target number one America intends to control for the strategic power and riches it represents.

The country is Iraq, and it's the reason US forces invaded and occupy it. McQuaig's book explained it stunningly, beginning on her opening page: The "oil motive" drives America's wars "given oil's obvious geopolitical significance, and the fact that Iraq is the last easily harvested oil bonanza left on earth."

...In her newest book, "Holding the Bully's Coat," McQuaig explains her nation is currently the US's leading energy supplier. Canada's importance will grow ahead as it plans to triple its oil sands production by 2015 to three million barrels daily, earmarking most of it for US markets. It's part of a secretly launched 2005 scheme called the Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America (SPP) or North American Union.
(1 August 2007)


Kazakhstan turns the screw
The government gets tough with foreign investors

The Economist
The Kazakh government has warned Western investors in the giant Kashagan oil project that delays and massive cost overruns amount to a breach of contract, which demands renegotiation of the deal. Currently, this seems likely to be limited to financial penalties rather than redistribution of equity in favour of the national oil company. However, it underlines the growing assertiveness of the Kazakh authorities in dealing with foreign investors that were welcomed with open arms in the 1990s.

Speaking at a government meeting on July 30th, Kazakhstan's prime minister, Karim Masimov, warned the western consortium developing the giant offshore Kashagan oilfield that the failure to start production on time was tantamount to a breach of contract, and that the government would take "adequate measures" in response.

Kashagan has recoverable reserves estimated at 7bn-9bn barrels and total reserves of 38bn barrels. Kashagan is operated by ENI, which like fellow shareholders ExxonMobil, Shell and Total has a stake of 18.5%; Conoco, Inpex and Kazmunaygaz are also in the consortium.
(1 August 2007)
Contributor Jeffrey J. Brown writes:
Kashagan is the only confirmed new one mbpd or larger field on the horizon. Assuming that Ghawar is declining, it appears that every field that has ever produced one mbpd or more of crude oil is in decline.


Good news from Baghdad at last: the oil law has stalled

Jonathan Steele, The Guardian
The panic and distraction of the security crisis should not be used as cover for handing Iraq's wealth to foreigners
---
Glad tidings from Baghdad at last. The Iraqi parliament has gone into summer recess without passing the oil law that Washington was pressing it to adopt. For the Bush administration this is irritating, since passage of the law was billed as a "benchmark" in its battle to get Congress not to set a timetable for US troop withdrawals. The political hoops through which the government of Nouri al-Maliki has been asked to jump were meant to be a companion piece to the US "surge". Just as General David Petraeus, the current US commander, is due to give his report on military progress next month, George Bush is supposed to tell Congress in mid-September how the Maliki government is moving forward on reform.

The signs are that, on both fronts, the administration will carry on playing for time. Bush and his officials are already suggesting they will maintain the surge for another year, and that Petraeus's report will merely be an interim score card. It will not use the fateful Vietnam-era language of light at the end of the tunnel, but it will say progress is under way and therefore more congressional patience is needed.

Similarly Ryan Crocker, the US ambassador in Baghdad, is playing down the urgency of the benchmarks. He has reminded the US media that Congress can take years to make reforms on complex issues such as immigration and healthcare. He argues it is unfair to expect the Iraqi parliament to do everything as fast as outsiders might wish.
(3 August 2007)

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