Remember the rallying cry of "No Blood For Oil" among those opposed to the Iraq War. Well, while the notion that the biggest reason America went to war was to horde the country's black gold has died down—an idea never even raised by the media—new developements in Iraq may revive the slogan. The New York Times reports that four Western oil companies are in the final stages of negotiating no-bid contracts to get oil from Iraq's largest fields.
Exxon Mobil, Shell, Total and BP — the original partners in the Iraq Petroleum Company — along with Chevron and a number of smaller oil companies, are in talks with Iraq’s Oil Ministry for no-bid contracts to service Iraq’s largest fields, according to ministry officials, oil company officials and an American diplomat..
The deals, expected to be announced on June 30, will lay the foundation for the first commercial work for the major companies in Iraq since the American invasion, and open a new and potentially lucrative country for their operations.
The no-bid contracts are unusual for the industry, and the offers prevailed over others by more than 40 companies, including companies in Russia, China and India. The contracts, which would run for one to two years and are relatively small by industry standards, would nonetheless give the companies an advantage in bidding on future contracts in a country that many experts consider to be the best hope for a large-scale increase in oil production.
There was suspicion among many in the Arab world and among parts of the American public that the United States had gone to war in Iraq precisely to secure the oil wealth these contracts seek to extract. The Bush administration has said that the war was necessary to combat terrorism. It is not clear what role the United States played in awarding the contracts; there are still American advisers to Iraq’s Oil Ministry.
Sensitive to the appearance that they were profiting from the war and already under pressure because of record high oil prices, senior officials of two of the companies, speaking only on the condition that they not be identified, said they were helping Iraq rebuild its decrepit oil industry.
Ok, forget the "helping Iraq" spin of big oil, which goes in the trash bin with Bush's spin of liberating Iraq. Let's start connecting some dots. The Senate refuses to tax oil companies for their windfall profits. Bush is currently yammering about ending a ban on offshore drilling (even though its reported they have 68 million acres of offshore waters under lease). Oh, and these companies are a part of a possible NO-BID CONTRACT. Cheney and Halliburton. The Bush family and their connection to oil. The chief of staff for the White House council on environmental quality, Philip Cooney, who's a former lobbyist for the oil industry. All old news, yes. But, with this latest move to get at Iraq's oil fields, my stomach is turning at a possible confirmation that Iraq, ultimately, was about advancing big business.
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