Iraqi Oil

America's new strategic petroleum reserve

Iraq has Earth's second biggest and the largest unexplored fields

related pages:

a crude map showing how partition of Iraq into three new countries would divide control of the oil -
if coupled with partition of Iran and Saudi Arabia, as some influential war mongers have proposed,
it would centralize control of the world's largest oil fields - artist unknown

an Iraqi exile perspective:

Thursday, April 26, 2007
The Great Wall of Segregation...

…Which is the wall the current Iraqi government is building (with the support and guidance of the Americans). It's a wall that is intended to separate and isolate what is now considered the largest 'Sunni' area in Baghdad- let no one say the Americans are not building anything. According to plans the Iraqi puppets and Americans cooked up, it will 'protect' A'adhamiya, a residential/mercantile area that the current Iraqi government and their death squads couldn't empty of Sunnis.

The wall, of course, will protect no one. I sometimes wonder if this is how the concentration camps began in Europe. The Nazi government probably said, "Oh look- we're just going to protect the Jews with this little wall here- it will be difficult for people to get into their special area to hurt them!" And yet, it will also be difficult to get out.

The Wall is the latest effort to further break Iraqi society apart. Promoting and supporting civil war isn't enough, apparently- Iraqis have generally proven to be more tenacious and tolerant than their mullahs, ayatollahs, and Vichy leaders. It's time for America to physically divide and conquer- like Berlin before the wall came down or Palestine today. This way, they can continue chasing Sunnis out of "Shia areas" and Shia out of "Sunni areas".

I always hear the Iraqi pro-war crowd interviewed on television from foreign capitals (they can only appear on television from the safety of foreign capitals because I defy anyone to be publicly pro-war in Iraq). They refuse to believe that their religiously inclined, sectarian political parties fueled this whole Sunni/Shia conflict. They refuse to acknowledge that this situation is a direct result of the war and occupation. They go on and on about Iraq's history and how Sunnis and Shia were always in conflict and I hate that. I hate that a handful of expats who haven't been to the country in decades pretend to know more about it than people actually living there.

I remember Baghdad before the war- one could live anywhere. We didn't know what our neighbors were- we didn't care. No one asked about religion or sect. No one bothered with what was considered a trivial topic: are you Sunni or Shia? You only asked something like that if you were uncouth and backward. Our lives revolve around it now. Our existence depends on hiding it or highlighting it- depending on the group of masked men who stop you or raid your home in the middle of the night.


CIA maps of Iraqi oil fields and ethnic / religious divides

CIA maps produced for the public domain, archived at


background on Iraqi oil

London Review of Books
18 October 2007
It’s the Oil
Jim Holt

Iraq is ‘unwinnable’, a ‘quagmire’, a ‘fiasco’: so goes the received opinion. But there is good reason to think that, from the Bush-Cheney perspective, it is none of these things. Indeed, the US may be ‘stuck’ precisely where Bush et al want it to be, which is why there is no ‘exit strategy’.
Iraq has 115 billion barrels of known oil reserves. That is more than five times the total in the United States. And, because of its long isolation, it is the least explored of the world’s oil-rich nations. A mere two thousand wells have been drilled across the entire country; in Texas alone there are a million. It has been estimated, by the Council on Foreign Relations, that Iraq may have a further 220 billion barrels of undiscovered oil; another study puts the figure at 300 billion. If these estimates are anywhere close to the mark, US forces are now sitting on one quarter of the world’s oil resources. The value of Iraqi oil, largely light crude with low production costs, would be of the order of $30 trillion at today’s prices. For purposes of comparison, the projected total cost of the US invasion/occupation is around $1 trillion.

[note: it is likely that these inflated estimates of ultimately recoverable Iraqi oil are exaggerated, but if that is true, then the remaining oil is even more critical for control of the global economy on the downslope of Peak Oil]

Future of Iraq: The spoils of war
How the West will make a killing on Iraqi oil riches
By Danny Fortson, Andrew Murray-Watson and Tim Webb
Published: 07 January 2007

Iraq's massive oil reserves, the third-largest in the world, are about to be thrown open for large-scale exploitation by Western oil companies under a controversial law which is expected to come before the Iraqi parliament within days.
The US government has been involved in drawing up the law, a draft of which has been seen by The Independent on Sunday. It would give big oil companies such as BP, Shell and Exxon 30-year contracts to extract Iraqi crude and allow the first large-scale operation of foreign oil interests in the country since the industry was nationalised in 1972.
The huge potential prizes for Western firms will give ammunition to critics who say the Iraq war was fought for oil. They point to statements such as one from Vice-President Dick Cheney, who said in 1999, while he was still chief executive of the oil services company Halliburton, that the world would need an additional 50 million barrels of oil a day by 2010. "So where is the oil going to come from?... The Middle East, with two-thirds of the world's oil and the lowest cost, is still where the prize ultimately lies," he said.
New Oil Law Means Victory in Iraq for Bush
By Chris Floyd
t r u t h o u t | UK Correspondent
Monday 08 January 2007

The reason that George W. Bush insists that "victory" is achievable in Iraq is not that he is deluded or isolated or ignorant or detached from reality or ill-advised. No, it's that his definition of "victory" is different from those bruited about in his own rhetoric and in the ever-earnest disquisitions of the chattering classes in print and online. ....
Bush and his cohorts don't really care what happens on the ground in Iraq - they care about what comes out of the ground. The end - profit and dominion - justifies any means. What happens to the human beings caught up in the war is of no ultimate importance; the game is worth any number of broken candles.
And in plain point of fact, the Bush-Cheney faction - and the elite interests they represent - has already won the war in Iraq. ....
Put simply, the Bush Family and their allies and cronies represent the confluence of three long-established power factions in the American elite: oil, arms and investments. These groups equate their own interests, their own wealth and privilege, with the interests of the nation - indeed, the world - as a whole. And they pursue these interests with every weapon at their command, including war, torture, deceit and corruption. Democracy means nothing to them - not even in their own country, as we saw in the 2000 election. Laws are just whips to keep the common herd in line; they don't apply to the elite, as Bush's own lawyers and minions have openly asserted in the memos, signing statements, court cases and presidential decrees asserting the "inherent power" of the "unitary executive" to override any law he pleases.
The Iraq war has been immensely profitable for these Bush-linked power factions (and their tributary industries, such as construction); billions of dollars in public money have already poured into their coffers. Halliburton has been catapulted from the edge of bankruptcy to the heights of no-bid, open-ended, guaranteed profit. The Carlyle Group is gorging on war contracts. Individual Bush family members are making out like bandits from war-related investments, while dozens of Bush minions - like Richard Perle, James Woolsey, and Joe Allbaugh - have cashed in their insider chips for blood money.
The aftermath of the war promises equal if not greater riches. Even if the new Iraqi government maintains nominal state control of its oil industry, there are still untold billions to be made in PSAs for drilling, refining, distributing, servicing and securing oilfields and pipelines. Likewise, the new Iraqi military and police forces will require billions more in weapons, equipment and training, bought from the US arms industry - and from the fast-expanding "private security" industry, the politically hard-wired mercenary forces that are the power elite's latest lucrative spin-off. And as with Saudi Arabia, oil money from the new Iraq will pump untold billions into American banks and investment houses.
For even in the worst-case scenario, if the Americans had to pull out tomorrow, abandoning everything - their bases, their contracts, their collaborators - the Bush power factions would still come out ahead. For not only has their already-incalculable wealth been vastly augmented (with any potential losses indemnified by US taxpayers), but their deeply-entrenched sway over American society has also increased by several magnitudes. No matter which party controls the government, the militarization of America is so far gone now it's impossible to imagine any major rollback in the gargantuan US war machine - 725 bases in 132 countries, annual military budgets topping $500 billion, a planned $1 trillion in new weapons systems already moving through the pipeline. Indeed, the Democratic "opposition" has promised to expand the military.
Nor will either party conceivably challenge the dominance of the energy behemoths - or stand against the American public's demand for cheap gas, big vehicles, and unlimited consumption of a vast disproportion of the world's oil. As for Wall Street - both parties have long been the eager courtesans of the investment elite, dispatching armies all over the world to protect their financial interests. The power factions whose influence has been so magnified by Bush's war will maintain their supremacy regardless of the electoral outcome.
[By the way, to think that all of this has happened because a small band of extremist ideologues - the neo-cons - somehow "hijacked" US foreign policy to push their radical dreams of "liberating" the Middle East by force and destroying Israel's enemies is absurd. The Bush power factions were already determined to pursue an aggressive foreign policy; they used the neo-cons and their bag of tricks - their inflated rhetoric, their conspiratorial zeal, their murky Middle East contacts, their ideology of brute force in the name of "higher" causes - as tools (and PR cover) to help bring about a long-planned war that had nothing to do with democracy or security or any coherent ideology whatsoever beyond the remorseless pursuit of wealth and power, the blind urge to be top dog.]
So Bush and his cohorts have won even if the surge fails and Iraq lapses into perpetual anarchy, or becomes an extremist religious state; they've won even if the whole region goes up in flames, and terrorism flares to unprecedented heights - because this will just mean more war-profiteering, more fear-profiteering. And yes, they've won even though they've lost their Congressional majority and could well lose the presidency in 2008, because war and fear will continue to fill their coffers, buying them continuing influence and power as they bide their time through another interregnum of a Democratic "centrist" - who will, at best, only nibble at the edges of the militarist state - until they are back in the saddle again. The only way they can lose the Iraq War is if they are actually arrested and imprisoned for their war crimes. And we all know that's not going to happen.
[emphasis added]
Bush's Petro-Cartel Almost Has Iraq's Oil
By Joshua Holland, AlterNet. Posted October 16, 2006.

Even as Iraq verges on splintering into a sectarian civil war, four big oil companies are on the verge of locking up its massive, profitable reserves, known to everyone in the petroleum industry as "the prize."

It's clear that the U.S.-led invasion had little to do with national security or the events of Sept. 11. Former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill revealed that just 11 days after Bush's inauguration in early 2001, regime change in Iraq was "Topic A" among the administration's national security staff, and former Terrorism Tsar Richard Clarke told 60 Minutes that the day after the attacks in New York and Washington occurred, "[Secretary of Defense Donald] Rumsfeld was saying that we needed to bomb Iraq." He added: "We all said … no, no. Al-Qaeda is in Afghanistan."
On March 7, 2003, two weeks before the United States attacked Iraq, the U.N.'s chief weapons inspector, Hans Blix, told the U.N. Security Council that Saddam Hussein's cooperation with the inspections protocol had improved to the point where it was "active or even proactive," and that the inspectors would be able to certify that Iraq was free of prohibited weapons within a few months' time. That same day, IAEA head Mohammed ElBaradei reported that there was no evidence of a current nuclear program in Iraq and flatly refuted the administration's claim that the infamous aluminum tubes cited by Colin Powell in making his case for war before the Security Council were part of a reconstituted nuclear program.
But serious planning for the war had begun in February of 2002, as Bob Woodward revealed in his book, Plan of Attack. Planning for the future of Iraq's oil wealth had been under way for longer still.
In February of 2001, just weeks after Bush was sworn in, the same energy executives that had been lobbying for Saddam's ouster gathered at the White House to participate in Dick Cheney's now infamous Energy Task Force. Although Cheney would go all the way to the Supreme Court to keep what happened at those meetings a secret, we do know a few things, thanks to documents obtained by the conservative legal group JudicialWatch. As Mark Levine wrote in The Nation($$):

… a map of Iraq and an accompanying list of "Iraq oil foreign suitors" were the center of discussion. The map erased all features of the country save the location of its main oil deposits, divided into nine exploration blocks. The accompanying list of suitors revealed that dozens of companies from 30 countries -- but not the United States -- were either in discussions over or in direct negotiations for rights to some of the best remaining oilfields on earth.

Blix says war motivated by oil
07:46 AEST Thu Apr 7 2005

AP - Former UN chief weapons inspector Hans Blix has said that oil was one of the reasons for the US-led invasion of Iraq, a Swedish news agency reports.
"I did not think so at first. But the US is incredibly dependent on oil," news agency TT quoted Blix as saying at a security seminar in Stockholm.
"They wanted to secure oil in case competition on the world market becomes too hard."
Blix, who helped oversee the dismantling of Iraq's weapons programs before the war, said another reason for the invasion was a need to move US troops from Saudi Arabia, TT reported.
Competition over oil is creating tension between the United States and China, Blix said, suggesting nuclear power as a more environmentally friendly source of energy.
"I believe the greatest threat in the long term is the greenhouse effect," said Blix, who's become a vocal critic of US leaders since he retired from the UN last year.He defended the United Nations, despite recent scandals including allegations of corruption in the oil-for-food program for Iraq.
"The criticism is, in my view, a revenge from American political circles for the defeat over Iraq," Blix was quoted as saying.
©AAP 2005

September 19, 2007
From Greenspan to Kissinger
Oil Warriors

Alan Greenspan had acknowledged what is blindingly obvious to those who live in the reality-based world: The Iraq War was largely about oil.

Meanwhile, Henry Kissinger says in an op-ed in Sunday's Washington Post that control over oil is the key issue that should determine whether the U.S. undertakes military action against Iran.

These statements would not be remarkable, but for the effort of a broad swath of the U.S. political establishment to deny the central role of oil in U.S. involvement in the Middle East.

Greenspan's remarks, appearing first in his just-published memoirs, are eyebrow-raising for their directness:

"Whatever their publicized angst over Saddam Hussein's 'weapons of mass destruction,' American and British authorities were also concerned about violence in the area that harbors a resource indispensable for the functioning of the world economy. I am saddened that it is politically inconvenient to acknowledge what everyone knows: the Iraq war is largely about oil."

His follow-up remarks have been even more direct. "I thought the issue of weapons of mass destruction as the excuse was utterly beside the point," he told the Guardian.

Greenspan also tells the Washington Post's Bob Woodward that he actively lobbied the White House to remove Saddam Hussein for the express purpose of protecting Western control over global oil supplies.

"I'm saying taking Saddam out was essential," Greenspan said. But, writes Woodward, Greenspan "added that he was not implying that the war was an oil grab."

"No, no, no," he said. Getting rid of Hussein achieved the purpose of "making certain that the existing system [of oil markets] continues to work, frankly, until we find other [energy supplies], which ultimately we will."

There's every reason to credit this view. U.S. oil companies surely have designs on Iraqi oil, and were concerned about inroads by French and other firms under Saddam. But the top U.S. geopolitical concern is making sure the oil remains in the hands of those who will cooperate with Western economies.

Henry Kissinger echoes this view in his op-ed. "Iran has legitimate aspirations that need to be respected," he writes -- but those legitimate aspirations do not include control over the oil that the United States and other industrial countries need.

"An Iran that practices subversion and seeks regional hegemony -- which appears to be the current trend -- must be faced with lines it will not be permitted to cross. The industrial nations cannot accept radical forces dominating a region on which their economies depend, and the acquisition of nuclear weapons by Iran is incompatible with international security."

Note that Kissinger prioritizes Iranian (or "radical") control over regional oil supplies over concern about the country acquiring nuclear weapons.

One might reasonably suggest that Greenspan and Kissinger are only pointing out the obvious. (Kissinger himself refers to his concerns about Iran as "truisms.")

But these claims have not been accepted as obvious in U.S. political life.

The Iraq was "is not about oil" became a mantra among the pro-war crowd in the run-up to the commencement of hostilities and in the following months. A small sampling --

Said President Bush: The idea that the United States covets Iraqi oil fields is a "wrong impression." "I have a deep desire for peace. That's what I have a desire for. And freedom for the Iraqi people. See, I don't like a system where people are repressed through torture and murder in order to keep a dictator in place. It troubles me deeply. And so the Iraqi people must hear this loud and clear, that this country never has any intention to conquer anybody."

Condoleeza Rice, in response to the proposition, "if Saddam's primary export or natural resource was olive oil rather than oil, we would not be going through this situation," said: "This cannot be further from the truth. He is a threat to his neighbors. He's a threat to American security interest. That is what the president has in mind." She continued: "This is not about oil."

Colin Powell: "This is not about oil; this is about a tyrant, a dictator, who is developing weapons of mass destruction to use against the Arab populations."

Donald Rumsfeld: "It's not about oil and it's not about religion."

White House spokesperson Ari Fleischer on the U.S. desire to access Iraqi oil fields: "there's just nothing to it."

Coalition Provisional Authority Paul Bremer: "I have heard that allegation and I simply reject it."

General John Abizaid, Combatant Commander, Central Command, "It's not about oil."

Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham: "It was not about oil."

"It's not about the oil," the Financial Times reported Richard Perle shouting at a parking attendant in frustration.

Australian Treasurer Peter Costello: "This is not about oil."

Former Secretary of State Lawrence Eagleburger: "The only thing I can tell you is this war is not about oil."

Jack Straw, British Foreign Secretary: "This is not about oil. This is about international peace and security."

Utah Republican Senator Bob Bennett: "This is not about oil. That was very clear. This is about America, and America's position in the world, as the upholder of liberty for the oppressed."

And Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen joined war-monger Richard Perle in calling Representative Dennis Kucinich a "liar" (or at very least a "fool"), because Kucinich suggested the war might be motivated in part by a U.S. interest in Iraqi oil.

What lessons are to be drawn from the Greenspan-Kissinger revelations, other than that political leaders routinely lie or engage in mass self-delusion?

Controlling the U.S. war machine will require ending the U.S. addiction to oil -- not just foreign oil, but oil. There are of course other reasons that ending reliance on fossil fuels is imperative and of the greatest urgency.

More and more people are making the connections -- but there's no outpouring in the streets to overcome the entrenched economic interests that seek to maintain the petro-military nexus. A good place to start: The No War, No Warming actions planned for October 21-23 in Washington, D.C. and around the United States.

Robert Weissman is editor of the Washington, D.C.-based Multinational Monitor, and director of Essential Action.

presidential press conference with Ari Fleischer, Feb 6, 2003
questions by Helen Thomas

Q Since you speak for the President, we have no access to him, can you categorically deny that the United States will take over the oil fields when we win this war? Which is apparently obvious and you're on your way and I don't think you doubt your victory. Oil -- is it about oil?
MR. FLEISCHER: Helen, as I've told you many times, if this had anything to do with oil, the position of the United States would be to lift the sanctions so the oil could flow. This is not about that. This is about saving lives by protecting the American people --
Q We will not take over the oil fields, are you saying that?
MR. FLEISCHER: The oil fields belong to the people of Iraq, the government of Iraq, all of Iraq. All the resources --
Q And we don't want any part of that?
MR. FLEISCHER: -- of Iraq need to be administered by the Iraqi government. And any action that is taken in Iraq is going to be taken with an eye toward the future of Iraq. And that involves the protecting of infrastructure, providing humanitarian aid. And that needs to be done by the Iraqi people.
Q There are reports that we've divided up the oil already, divvied it up with the Russians and French and so forth. Isn't that true?
MR. FLEISCHER: What's the source of these reports that you cite?
Q They're all over the place.
MR. FLEISCHER: Can you be more specific?
Q That we have just -- we will take the oil fields and then we will parcel out the oil.
MR. FLEISCHER: But you cited some reports. I'm just curious about -- if you can be more specific about the source of these reports that you're citing here today.
Q -- have you been reading the newspapers?
MR. FLEISCHER: Can you be more specific? Anywhere in particular?
Q Senator Lugar said it.
MR. FLEISCHER: No, there's no truth to that, that we would divide up the oil fields. As I --
Q Your own people have said something -- but I'm sorry I can't pinpoint it.
MR. FLEISCHER: As I indicated, the infrastructure of Iraq belongs to the people of Iraq. And that is going to be respected.
Q Why should you decide what is their infrastructure or their government?
MR. FLEISCHER: Obviously, if the regime changes there will be a new government. And the government will represent the people of Iraq.
By Fred Pearce New Scientist 29/01/2003

Iraq has the second largest proven reserves of oil in the world, behind only Saudi Arabia. 112 billion barrels lie below the country's desert sands, together with another probable 220 billion barrels of unproven reserves. What's more, the US Department of Energy says, "Iraq's true resource potential may be far greater, as the country is relatively unexplored due to years of war and sanctions."
This, plus the fact that "Iraq's oil production costs are among the lowest in the world, makes it a highly attractive oil prospect," says the department's latest country analysis. No wonder many critics believe that the campaign to topple Saddam Hussein is really a battle for Iraq's oil.
The Oil Coup: Bush's Master Oil Plan?
A Cyber Research Resource

George Monbiot
In the Crocodile’s Mouth
Blair is appeasing Bush partly in order to get a share of the world’s diminishing supplies of oil
By George Monbiot. Published in the Guardian 5th November 2002

Tony Blair's loyalty to George Bush looks like slow political suicide. His preparedness to follow him over every precipice jeopardises Britain's relationships with its allies, conjures up enemies all over the world and infuriates voters of all political colours. And yet he never misses an opportunity to show what a trusting friend he is.
There are several plausible and well-established explanations for this unnatural coupling. But there might also be a new one. Blair may have calculated that sticking to Bush is the only way in which our unsustainable economy can meet its need for energy.
Britain is running out of time. According to the Oil Depletion Analysis Centre, the UK's North Sea production has been declining since 1999. Nuclear power in Britain is, in effect, finished: on Saturday, the EU revealed that it had prohibited the government's latest desperate attempt to keep it afloat with massive subsidies. But, partly because of corporate lobbying, partly because of his unhealthy fear of "Mondeo man" or "Worcester woman", or whatever the floating voter of Middle England has now become, Tony Blair has also flatly rejected both an effective energy reduction policy and a massive investment in alternative power. The only remaining way of meeting future energy demand is to import ever greater quantities of oil and gas.
And here the government runs into an intractable political reality. As available reserves decline, the world's oil-hungry nations are tussling to grab as much as they can for themselves. Almost everywhere on earth, the United States is winning. It is positioning itself to become the gatekeeper to the world's remaining oil and gas. If it succeeds, it will both secure its own future supplies and massively enhance its hegemonic power.
The world's oil reserves, the depletion analysis centre claims, appear to be declining almost as swiftly as the North Sea's. Conventional oil supplies, it suggests, will peak within five or ten years, and decline by around two million barrels per day every year from then on. New kinds of fossil fuel have only a limited potential to ameliorate the coming crisis. In the Middle East, the only nation which could significantly increase its output is Iraq.
In 2001, a report sponsored by the US Council on Foreign Relations and the Baker Institute for Public Policy began to spell out some of the implications of this decline for America's national security. The problem, it noted, is that "the American people continue to demand plentiful and cheap energy without sacrifice or inconvenience". Transport, for example, is responsible for 66% of the petroleum the US burns. Simply switching from "light trucks" (the giant gas-guzzlers many Americans drive) to ordinary cars would save nearly a million barrels per day of crude oil. But, as the president's dad once said, "the American way of life is not up for negotiation".
"The world," the report continues, "is currently precariously close to utilizing all of its available global oil production capacity". The impending crisis is increasing "U.S. and global vulnerability to disruption". Over the previous year, for example, Iraq had "effectively become a swing producer, turning its taps on and off when it has felt such action was in its strategic interest". If the global demand for oil continues to rise, world shortages could reduce the status of the US to that of "a poor developing country".
This crisis, the report insists, demands "a reassessment of the role of energy in American foreign policy ... Such a strategy will require difficult tradeoffs, in both domestic and foreign policy. But there is no alternative. And there is no time to waste." By assuming "a leadership role in the formation of new rules of the game", the United States will prevent any other power from exploiting its dependency and seizing the strategic initiative.
The US government has not been slow to act upon such intelligence. Over the past two years, it has been seizing all the Caspian oil it can lay hands on, cutting out both Russia and Iran by negotiating to pipe it out through Azerbaijan, Georgia and Afghanistan. Last week, though all the sages of the British and American right insisted during the Afghan war that it couldn't possibly happen, the presidents of Afghanistan, Turkmenistan and Pakistan met to discuss the first of the Afghan pipelines. American soldiers have now been stationed in Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan and Georgia, all of which are critical to the Caspian oil trade. According to the security firm Stratfor, "the U.S. military presence will help ensure that a majority of oil and gas from the Caspian basin will go westward -- bypassing the United States' geopolitical rivals, Russia and China." The reason why Vladimir Putin is so determined to keep Chechnya under Russian control, whatever the cost to both the Chechens and the Russians may be, is that Chechnya is one of the last available routes for Caspian oil.
The US has been playing the same game in the Middle East. A recent report by the Brookings Institution notes that "U.S. strategic domination over the entire region, including the whole lane of sea communications from the strait of Hormuz, will be perceived as the primary vulnerability of China's energy supply." Last month a senior US general, Carlton Fulford, visited Sao Tomé and Principe, the islands halfway between Nigeria and Angola, to discuss the possibility of establishing a military base there. Both nations see the base as a threatening staging post, which the US could use to help gain exclusive access to West African oil. Earlier this year, George Bush negotiated a "North American Energy Initiative" with Canada and Mexico. The US is hoping to extend the arrangement to the rest of the Americas, which could help to explain the coup which nearly toppled Venezuela's president in April.
Oh, and there's the small matter of the one nation in the Middle East whose oil production could be substantially increased, with the help of a little external encouragement. Last week the leader of the exiled Iraqi National Congress met executives from three major American oil companies, to start negotiations about who gets what once the US has taken over. This carve-up would mean cancelling the big contracts Russia and France have struck with Saddam Hussein. Lord Browne, the head of BP, warned that Britain might also be squeezed out of Iraq.
The United States, in other words, appears rapidly to be monopolising the world's remaining oil. Every government knows this. Ours appears to have calculated that the only way it can obtain the energy required to permit the men and women of Middle England to stay in their cars is to appease the United States, whatever the cost may be. Britain's role in the impending war is that of the egret in the crocodile's mouth, picking the scraps of flesh from between its teeth.
In 1929 the novelist Ilya Ehrenburg observed that "the automobile can't be blamed for anything. Its conscience is as clear as Monsieur Citroen's conscience. It only fulfills its destiny: it is destined to wipe out the world." Our struggle over the next few months is to prove him wrong.
5th November 2002
James Howard Kunstler - Clusterfuck Nation
January 31, 2003
Commentator Jim Minter on the Energy Resources list-serve makes some excellent points about the looming Iraq war vis-a-vis oil. Note, Minter is not a war hawk. he is just trying to explain what is really behind our policy.

Iraq has a lot of oil that is soon to be needed in the global oil market. It doesn't matter to this market whether American, British, French or Russian companies pump and sell it. It's a global market! Iraqi oil doesn't even need to come to the U.S. Even if Iraqi oil only went to Europe it would increase the global supply and lower the global price. Oil companies are multi-national. Their investors are international. Don't trap yourselves into old-think nationalism. As we slide deeper into this decade, global oil consumers need Iraqi oil.
Saddam has out-waited us--at terrible cost to the Iraqi people--but nevertheless shutting off Iraqi oil from the global market will soon hurt global consumers worse than it hurts Saddam's regime. Why? GLOBAL OIL PRODUCTION IS AT PEAK, as Matthew Simmons, Colin Campbell, Jean Laherrère and other knowledgeable experts have shown... as the highest levels of U.S. and British decision-makers know from their highly-classified briefings. And so, because global oil production peaks in this decade, Iraqi oil must re-enter the global mainstream--and soon! Saddam can't have those profits. It's as simple as that. The global community cannot afford to have the profits from the very imminent massive pumping of Iraqi oil funding the arsenal of that maniac. That regime has got to go
It's a stark picture and I suppose the best "humanitarian" face we can candidly put on it goes something like this: "The goal is to see peace and stability come to Iraq and the oil-producing Middle East while the global economy pumps its oil. The aim of the global community is to set up a 'democratic, market-economy regime' in Iraq with the oil revenues going to build a stable, secular and prosperous society in Iraq. The Iraqi people can select whomever they please to help them quickly develop their oil, and God bless them (though guess who has the best oil technology?).
Oil directly fuels more than a third of the American economy, most specifically our entire transportation system. That includes the auto/truck industry (everything from manufacturing to repair to insurance) road building and maintenance, all commerce and industry (trucking delivers everything and even the few trains left are diesel), air transport, and every facet of our daily lives from commuting to tourism. There is no substitute fuel for our present transportation system. None. Nada, Zilch. That has been conclusively and finally demonstrated to exhaustion on this Energy Resources Web Site. But even if those lame, low-net transportation-fuel substitutes touted by a few stubbornly-giddy techno-cornucopians were viable, none can claim that their pet schemes can be put on-line in time to provide an alternative-fueled transportation system for America in this decade... or even the next decade. Without our petroleum transportation system, the U.S. economy dies. Also having trans-continental economies, Canada and Australia are in the same boat. Next in transportation vulnerability are Europe and Japan.
Oil is also the base feed stock for our petro-chemical industry and possibly half of all the non-edible, physical products we now consume. There are some substitute feed stocks in some products, but they are not likely to be as cheap or as usable as oil stock is presently. Oil products also drive much of our non-transportation machinery, in addition to heating and powering a chunk of our built-infrastructure. Here, at least, petroleum products can be almost totally replaced, though not always swiftly or efficiently... and rarely, cheaply. We can run our buildings, if not our cars, on something besides petroleum. However, our modern agricultural system is totally petroleum-dependant. So is our forestry and fishing.
Bottom line: Our transcontinental economy is built upon the cheap transportation provided by petroleum. For the foreseeable future there is no alternative. If oil fails totally, which is not likely, we fail totally. But [as we advance into the future and] oil becomes restricted and expensive, we enter the same "stagflation" of inflation-with-recession that we experienced after the last oil crisis in the mid-70s. Simply put: Without petroleum the U.S. faces catastrophe; with constrained supplies or expensive supplies of petroleum we only face disaster.
The rapid flow of Iraqi oil into the global bloodstream for the next dozen-or-so years will not, of course, alleviate the total decline in global petro-stocks. But rapidly pumping Iraqi oil can push forward in time the "felt effects" of the global "Hubbert Peak" decline. Pumping Iraq and Saudi Arabia at ever-accelerated rates can for a time cover the decline of the North Sea and the North Slope, the continental U.S., and other aging oil fields. Of course, as many here at Energy Resources have already pointed out, this reckless course of blindly fueling the growth of oil consumption only assures that when the supply/demand crunch finally does arrive, it will be more precipitous and more catastrophic than the sane and sensible "soft path down" proposed by our late guru, Howard T, Odum and many others.
I am NOT advocating or defending the impending war to depose Saddam -- just explaining why it is going to happen and why no amount of outrage and righteous indignation is going to stop it. I think the world's oil gluttony is deplorable. I do not think that consuming nations have a right to other people's resources. What I am trying to explain is the relentless logic of our blind consumption. We are at Peak but we do not understand it. We have been lied to by our corporations and our government. Our news media has been credulous, blind, corrupted and stupid. And so the momentum of our economy and our society is going full-tilt to business-as-usual, which means getting all the petroleum we can pump into our transportation bloodstream because our economy and our society shrivel without it. It is far too late to change course. We do not even know that we need to. What's more we don't want to know, and most of us wouldn't make the hard decisions to begin changing our personal lifestyles if we did know.

Where I depart from Minter's view is that the takeover of Iraq and its oil may not be an orderly process. The operation itself my turn into a protracted military clusterfuck. Assuming that we eventually conclude it, I am not convinced that we could control either the far-flung terrain of the oil fields or the oil drilling equipment on it, not to mention the extremely vulnurable pipelines, terminals, and refineries. What's more, I'm inclined to believe that our Iraqi adventure will unleash Jihad-o-rama, which may topple the Saudi regime and bring lasting disorder to much of the Middle East.
Israel eyes Iraqi oil
By Simon Wilson
in Jerusalem

An Israeli minister says he wants to reopen a pipeline which has been closed for more than fifty years to bring Iraqi oil through Jordan to Israel's Mediterranean coast.
A spokesman for the infrastructure minister, Joseph Paritzky, said the move would cut fuel costs in Israel and help regenerate the port city of Haifa.
There has been no official comment yet from Jordan, but any suggestion that Israel might benefit from the fall of Saddam Hussein is likely to enrage many people in Arab countries.
The pipeline was built after Britain took control of Iraq, Jordan and what was then British mandate Palestine after the First World War.
The section from Iraq to Jordan is still functioning, but the route from Jordan to the port of Haifa, which is now in Israel, was cut in 1948 when the British pulled out.
The Israeli infrastructure ministry says reopening the pipeline would give easy access to Iraqi oil, cut fuel costs in Israel and help regenerate Haifa which has suffered badly in Israel's economic recession.
At the moment this appears to be a personal initiative by the infrastructure minister who is from the secular Shinui Party, rather than any official policy of Ariel Sharon's coalition government.
In any case, Jordan may find it difficult to align itself publicly with a project which would cause outrage in much of the Arab world.