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|America, Russia and Iraqi oil|
|10/07/02 at 08:51:16|
|Scramble to carve up Iraqi oil reserves lies behind US diplomacy |
Manoeuvres shaped by horsetrading between America, Russia and France over control of untapped oilfields
Ed Vulliamy in New York, Paul Webster in Paris, and Nick Paton Walsh in Moscow
Sunday October 6, 2002
Oil is emerging as the key factor in US attempts to secure the support of Russia and France for military action against Iraq, according to an Observer investigation.
The Bush administration, intimately entwined with the global oil industry, is keen to pounce on Iraq's massive untapped reserves, the second biggest in the world after Saudi Arabia's. But France and Russia, who hold a power of veto on the UN Security Council, have billion-dollar contracts with Baghdad, which they fear will disappear in 'an oil grab by Washington', if America installs a successor to Saddam.
A Russian official at the United Nations in New York told the Observer last week that the $7 billion in Soviet-era debt was not the main 'economic interest' in Iraq about which the Kremlin is voicing its concerns. The main fear was a post-Saddam government would not honour extraction contracts Moscow has signed with Iraq.
Russian business has long-standing interests in Iraq. Lukoil, the biggest oil company in Russia, signed a $20bn contract in 1997 to drill the West Qurna oilfield. Such a deal could evaporate along with the Saddam regime, together with a more recent contract with Russian giant Zarubezhneft, which was granted a potential $90bn concession to develop the bin Umar oilfield. The total value of Saddam's foreign contract awards could reach $1.1 trillion, according to the International Energy Agency's World Energy Outlook 2001.
The Russian official said his government believed the US had brokered a deal with the coalition of Iraqi opposition forces it backs whereby support against Saddam is conditional on their declaring - on taking power - all oil contracts conceded under his rule to be null and void.
'The concern of my government,' said the official, 'is that the concessions agreed between Baghdad and numerous enterprises will be reneged upon, and that US companies will enter to take the greatest share of those existing contracts... Yes, if you could say it that way - an oil grab by Washington'.
A government insider in Paris told The Observer that France also feared suffering economically from US oil ambitions at the end of a war. But the dilemma for Paris is more complex. Despite President Jacques Chirac and Chancellor Gerhard Schröder of Germany agreeing last week to oppose changing the rules governing weapons inspectors, France may back military action.
Government sources say they fear - existing concessions aside - France could be cut out of the spoils if it did not support the war and show a significant military presence. If it comes to war, France is determined to be allotted a more prestigious role in the fighting than in the 1991 Gulf war, when its main role was to occupy lightly defended ground. Negotiations have been going on between the state-owned TotalFinaElf company and the US about redistribution of oil regions between the world's major companies.
Washington's predatory interest in Iraqi oil is clear, whatever its political protestations about its motives for war. The US National Energy Policy Report of 2001 - known as the 'Cheney Report' after its author Vice President Dick Cheney, formerly one of America's richest and most powerful oil industry magnates - demanded a priority on easing US access to Persian Gulf supplies.
Doubts about Saudi Arabia - even before 11 September, and even more so in its wake - led US strategists to seek a backup supply in the region. America needs 20 million barrels of crude a day, and analysts have singled out the country that could meet up to half that requirement: Iraq.
The current high price of oil is dragging the US economy further into recession. US control of the Iraqi reserves, perhaps the biggest unmapped reservoir in the world, would break Saudi Arabia's hold on the oil-pricing cartel Opec, and dictate prices for the next century.
This could spell disaster for Russian oil giants, keen to expand their sales to the West. Russia has sought to prolong negotiations, official statements going between opposition to any new UN resolution and possible support for military action against an Iraqi regime proven to be developing weapons of mass destruction.
While France is thought likely to support US military action, and China will probably fall in line because of its admission to the World Trade Organisation, Putin is left holding the wild cards.
Russia recognises potential benefits of reaching a deal with the US: Saddam's regime is difficult to work with. Lukoil's billion-dollar concessions are frozen and profitless to Moscow and Baghdad under UN sanctions, leading to fears that Saddam might have declared the agreement null and void out of spite. Iraqi diplomats say Zarubezhneft won its $90bn contract only after Baghdad took it away from TotalFinaElf because of French support for sanctions.
Russia stands to profit if intervention in the Gulf triggers a hike in Middle East oil prices, as its firms are lobbying to sell millions of barrels a day to the US, at two-thirds of the current market price.
Moscow's trust of Washington may be slipping after what a Russian UN official calls 'broken promises' that followed negotiations over Moscow's support for the Afghan campaign.
Russia turned a blind eye to US troops in central Asia, on the tacit condition that US-Russian trade restrictions would be lifted. But they are still there, and other benefits expected after 11 September have also not materialised.
'They've been making this point very strongly,' a senior Bush administration official conceded to the Washington Post , 'that this can't be an all-give-and-no-get relationship... They do have a point that the growing relationship has got to be reciprocal.'
|IRAQ BRIEFING #4: OIL, OIL, OIL|
|10/09/02 at 08:43:25|
|IRAQ BRIEFING #4: OIL, OIL, OIL|
1) Scramble to carve up Iraqi oil reserves lies behind US diplomacy
2) Official: US oil at the heart of Iraq crisis
3) Spoils of War In Iraq War, to the Victor Goes the Oil
4) Oil firms wait as Iraq crisis unfolds
5) Russia fears US oil companies will take over world's second-biggest reserves
6) The word from the CIA: it's the oil, stupid
7) In Iraqi War Scenario, Oil Is Key Issue
8) West's greed for oil fuels Saddam fever
9) West sees glittering prizes ahead in giant oilfields
Scramble to carve up Iraqi oil reserves lies behind US diplomacy
Manoeuvres shaped by horsetrading between America, Russia and France over
control of untapped oilfields
Ed Vulliamy in New York, Paul Webster in Paris, and Nick Paton Walsh in Moscow
Sunday October 6, 2002 The Observer
Oil is emerging as the key factor in US attempts to secure the support of Russia
and France for military action against Iraq, according to an Observer
The Bush administration, intimately entwined with the global oil industry, is
keen to pounce on Iraq's massive untapped reserves, the second biggest in the
world after Saudi Arabia's. But France and Russia, who hold a power of veto on
the UN Security Council, have billion-dollar contracts with Baghdad, which they
fear will disappear in 'an oil grab by Washington', if America installs a
successor to Saddam.
Official: US oil at the heart of Iraq crisis
By Neil Mackay
President Bush's Cabinet agreed in April 2001 that 'Iraq remains a
destabilising influence to the flow of oil to international markets from the
Middle East' and because this is an unacceptable risk to the US 'military
intervention' is necessary.
Vice-president Dick Cheney, who chairs the White House Energy Policy Development
Group, commissioned a report on 'energy security' from the Baker Institute for
Public Policy, a think-tank set up by James Baker, the former US secretary of
state under George Bush Snr.
The report, Strategic Energy Policy Challenges For The 21st Century, concludes:
'The United States remains a prisoner of its energy dilemma. Iraq remains a de-
stabilising influence to ... the flow of oil to international markets from the
Middle East. Saddam Hussein has also demonstrated a willingness to threaten to
use the oil weapon and to use his own export programme to manipulate oil
markets. Therefore the US should conduct an immediate policy review toward Iraq
including military, energy, economic and political/ diplomatic assessments.
'The United States should then develop an integrated strategy with key allies in
Europe and Asia, and with key countries in the Middle East, to restate goals
with respect to Iraqi policy and to restore a cohesive coalition of key allies.'
http://abcnews.go.com/sections/business/Nightline/ NTL_oil_iraq_021004. html
Spoils of War In Iraq War, to the Victor Goes the Oil
Analysis From The Editors of Nightline
Oct. 4 — Saddam Hussein is sitting on a gold mine — the second-largest oil
reserve in the world —
and everyone wants a piece of it.
Oil is a consideration for nations considering joining in the fight if the
United States goes to war in the Persian Gulf, because the day after Saddam is
removed, the Iraqi oil industry is up for grabs.
Of all of the reasons offered for removing Saddam, from terrorism to terrible
weapons, oil is seldom mentioned. Yet critical to the American agenda is the
fear an Iraq armed with nuclear weapons could dominated, or hold hostage a
region through which flows an estimated 30 percent of
the world's oil and natural gas.
Similar worries about the world's oil supply figured heavily in the 1991 Gulf
War, and before that, concerns Iran might capture critical oil fields led the
United States to support Iraq in the war between those two countries.
And now, oil is a consideration in the continuing drama at the United Nations.
France and Russia, both with veto power in the Security Council, have extensive
oil interests in Iraq.
Oil firms wait as Iraq crisis unfolds
Robert Collier, Chronicle Staff Writer Sunday, September 29, 2002
The world's biggest oil bonanza in recent memory may be just around the corner,
giving U.S. oil companies huge profits and American consumers cheap gasoline for
decades to come.
And it all may come courtesy of a war with Iraq.
While debate intensifies about the Bush administration's policy, oil analysts
and Iraqi exile leaders believe a new, pro-Western government -- assuming it
were to replace Saddam Hussein's
regime -- would prompt U.S. and multinational petroleum giants to rush into
Iraq, dramatically increasing the output of a nation whose oil reserves are
second only to that of Saudi Arabia.
"There already is a stampede, with the Russians, French and Italians already
lined up," said Lawrence Goldstein, president of the Petroleum Industry Research
Foundation, a New York think tank funded by large oil companies.
Russia fears US oil companies will take over world's second-biggest reserves
By Andrew Buncombe in Washington
26 September 2002
Oil companies from around the world are manoeuvring for the multibillion-dollar
bonanza that would follow the ousting of Saddam Hussein.
Russia is so concerned that it has been holding secretive talks with the Iraqi
opposition to shore up its economic interests in the country which still owes
Moscow $7bn dollars from Soviet times.
With the second-biggest reserves in the world, Iraq's underdeveloped oilfields
have become a key negotiating chip and a backdrop to talks between the US and
the other permanent members of the UN Security Council – all of which have major
economic stakes in regime change in Iraq.
The word from the CIA: it's the oil, stupid September 23, 2002
Who should be more worried, asks Kenneth Davidson, Saddam; or the French and
Russian oil companies
presently in Iraq?
France and Russia have oil companies and interests in Iraq. They should be told
that if they are
of assistance in moving Iraq towards decent government, we'll do the best we can
to ensure that
the new government and American companies will work with them. If they throw
their lot with
Saddam, it will be difficult to the point of impossible to persuade the new Iraq
government to work with them. Former CIA director James Woolsey, quoted in The
Washington Post, September 15, 2002.
So there you have it. The Bush administration may be telling the world that the
reason the UN Security Council has to approve an allied attack on Iraq is
because of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction capability, but the real reason
France and Russia are being told to get on board the
US military bandwagon is Iraq's oil reserves.
According to The Washington Post, all five permanent members of the Security
Council - the US, Britain, France, Russia and China - have international oil
companies with major stakes in a change of leadership in Baghdad. The Washington
Post is one of the major media vehicles through which members of the American
establishment talk to each other.
In Iraqi War Scenario, Oil Is Key Issue U.S. Drillers Eye Huge Petroleum Pool
By Dan Morgan and David B. Ottaway Washington Post Staff Writers Sunday,
September 15, 2002; Page
A U.S.-led ouster of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein could open a bonanza for
American oil companies long banished from Iraq, scuttling oil deals between
Baghdad and Russia, France and other countries, and reshuffling world petroleum
markets, according to industry officials and
leaders of the Iraqi opposition.
Although senior Bush administration officials say they have not begun to focus
on the issues involving oil and Iraq, American and foreign oil companies have
already begun maneuvering for a stake in the country's huge proven reserves of
112 billion barrels of crude oil, the largest in the world outside Saudi Arabia.
West's greed for oil fuels Saddam fever
Anthony Sampson analyses the roots of America's fear of the Iraqi dictator,and
warns that toppling
him might cause less stability and more insecurity
The Observer, August 11, 2002
Is the projected war against Iraq really turning into an oil war, aimed at
energy supplies as much as toppling a dangerous dictator and source of
terrorism? Of course no one can doubt the genuine American hatred of Saddam
Hussein, but recent developments in Washington suggest oil may loom larger than
democracy or human rights in American calculations.
The alarmist briefing to the Pentagon by the Rand Corporation, leaked last week,
talked about Saudi Arabia as 'the kernel of evil' and proposed that Washington
should have a showdown with its former ally, if necessary seizing its oilfields
which have been crucial to America's energy.
And the more anxious oil companies become about the stability of Saudi Arabia,
the more they become interested in gaining access to Iraq, site of the world's
second biggest oil reserves, which are denied to them.
Times (UK), July 11, 2002
West sees glittering prizes ahead in giant oilfields
By Michael Theodoulou in Nicosia and Roland Watson
THE removal of President Saddam Hussein would open Iraqs rich new oilfields to
Western bidders and
bring the prospect of lessening dependence on Saudi oil.
No other country offers such untapped oilfields whose exploitation could lessen
tensions over the Western presence in Saudi Arabia.
After Kuwait's liberation by US-led forces in 1991, America monopolised the
postwar deals, but the need to win international support for an invasion is
unlikely to see a repeat.
Russia, in particular, and France and China all permanent members of the United
Nations Security Council have high hopes of prising promises of contracts in a
liberated Iraq from a United States that may need their political support.
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