Saturday, April 26, 2003

Iraq - The Oil Connection

With all of the talk coming out of the administration that we weren't really worried about WMD, we may as well revisit some of the other theories that were postured in the run up to war. Back in December, Michael Renner of the WorldWatch Institute explained an amazing pattern.
From Pakistan to Central Asia to the Caucasus — and from the eastern Mediterranean to the Horn of Africa — a dense network of U.S. military facilities has emerged. Many bases have been established in the name of the “war on terror.” But what they really have in common is their proximity to major oil production facilities or strategically important pipelines...

In Colombia, meanwhile, the stage is set for the United States to get drawn ever more deeply into the country’s civil war. The Bush Administration has decided to provide training and equipment for Colombian troops...

Why? It’s not, as one might think, solely because of the country’s drug exports to the United States. In reality, these U.S.-supported troops are also protecting an oil export pipeline against frequent bombings by rebel forces...

He goes on to make further points about defanging OPEC and ensuring that oil prices stay low in order not to encourage alternative energy sources. It's an excellent article, and well worth reading. Since the war has gone totally postmodern, and noone seems to be able to say exactly what it's about, we may as well start assuming the obvious and consider this the work of oil magnates ensuring their viability.


Update: Also don't miss my post on The New Great Game, an excellent analysis by The Ecologist magazine of American energy policy and how it specifically relates to the War on Iraq. Better yet, unless you're short on time or bookmarks, forget my post and just read it direct.

The new Great Game is being played out not only in the Middle East but also in other energy-rich regions such as West Africa and the Caspian Sea. There too, the scramble for petrol reserves and pipeline routes is producing bloody conflicts, proving beyond doubt why oil has been called ‘the tears of the devil’.

Iraq, however, has become the linchpin in a US strategy to secure cheap oil while breaking the clout of the Arab-dominated oil cartel Opec. Iraq sits on an astronomic 112 billion barrels of crude. At 12 per cent of the world’s reserves, this is the second largest proven source in the world. Only Saudi Arabia (with 262 billion barrels and roughly one fourth of the earth’s total resources) has more oil. At the moment, Iraq legally exports about two million barrels a day as part of the UN ‘food for oil’ programme. Most of its oil production facilities are in dire need of technical modernisation, but the UN sanctions keep foreign investors out. If sanctions were lifted after the overthrow of Saddam Hussein, trans-national energy corporations could start exploiting Iraq’s huge oil fields. There would be no shortage of suitors: Iraq’s light, low-sulphur oil is considered to be among the best in the world. Moreover, the fact that the country’s oil reserves often lie right under the earth’s surface makes it extremely cheap to drill. Production costs in Iraq can be as low as $2 a barrel.

The rest of the article is not to be missed. The historical analysis is very telling, and makes a good case for where we stand today.


Update: Don't miss these rants on the virtual realities of war (including bloggers) and postmodern war in the age of W.