IA has Antonias talks linked in the Video Section. We have cited more than once the importance of understanding Iraqs Hydrocarbon Law as a key index of US intention in Iraq. Antonia Juhasz knows this issue forward and backward.
New York Times
March 13, 2007
Whose Oil Is It, Anyway?
By ANTONIA JUHASZ
TODAY more than three-quarters of the worlds oil is owned and
controlled by governments. It wasnt always this way.
Until about 35 years ago, the worlds oil was largely in the hands of
seven corporations based in the United States and Europe. Those seven
have since merged into four: ExxonMobil, Chevron, Shell and BP. They
are among the worlds largest and most powerful financial empires. But
ever since they lost their exclusive control of the oil to the
governments, the companies have been trying to get it back.
Iraqs oil reserves — thought to be the second largest in the world —
have always been high on the corporate wish list. In 1998, Kenneth
Derr, then chief executive of Chevron, told a San Francisco audience,
Iraq possesses huge reserves of oil and gas — reserves Id love
Chevron to have access to.
A new oil law set to go before the Iraqi Parliament this month would,
if passed, go a long way toward helping the oil companies achieve
their goal. The Iraq hydrocarbon law would take the majority of Iraqs
oil out of the exclusive hands of the Iraqi government and open it to
international oil companies for a generation or more.
In March 2001, the National Energy Policy Development Group (better
known as Vice President Dick Cheneys energy task force), which
included executives of Americas largest energy companies, recommended
that the United States government support initiatives by Middle
Eastern countries to open up areas of their energy sectors to foreign
investment. One invasion and a great deal of political engineering by
the Bush administration later, this is exactly what the proposed Iraq
oil law would achieve. It does so to the benefit of the companies, but
to the great detriment of Iraqs economy, democracy and sovereignty.
Since the invasion of Iraq, the Bush administration has been
aggressive in shepherding the oil law toward passage. It is one of the
presidents benchmarks for the government of Prime Minister Nuri Kamal
al-Maliki, a fact that Mr. Bush, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice,
Gen. William Casey, Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad and other
administration officials are publicly emphasizing with increasing
The administration has highlighted the laws revenue sharing plan,
under which the central government would distribute oil revenues
throughout the nation on a per capita basis. But the benefits of this
excellent proposal are radically undercut by the laws many other
provisions — these allow much (if not most) of Iraqs oil revenues to
flow out of the country and into the pockets of international oil
The law would transform Iraqs oil industry from a nationalized model
closed to American oil companies except for limited (although highly
lucrative) marketing contracts, into a commercial industry,
all-but-privatized, that is fully open to all international oil
The Iraq National Oil Company would have exclusive control of just 17
of Iraqs 80 known oil fields, leaving two-thirds of known — and all
of its as yet undiscovered — fields open to foreign control.
The foreign companies would not have to invest their earnings in the
Iraqi economy, partner with Iraqi companies, hire Iraqi workers or
share new technologies. They could even ride out Iraqs current
instability by signing contracts now, while the Iraqi government is
at its weakest, and then wait at least two years before even setting
foot in the country. The vast majority of Iraqs oil would then be
left underground for at least two years rather than being used for the
countrys economic development.
The international oil companies could also be offered some of the most
corporate-friendly contracts in the world, including what are called
production sharing agreements. These agreements are the oil industrys
preferred model, but are roundly rejected by all the top oil producing
countries in the Middle East because they grant long-term contracts
(20 to 35 years in the case of Iraqs draft law) and greater control,
ownership and profits to the companies than other models. In fact,
they are used for only approximately 12 percent of the worlds oil.
Iraqs neighbors Iran, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia maintain nationalized
oil systems and have outlawed foreign control over oil development.
They all hire international oil companies as contractors to provide
specific services as needed, for a limited duration, and without
giving the foreign company any direct interest in the oil produced.
Iraqis may very well choose to use the expertise and experience of
international oil companies. They are most likely to do so in a manner
that best serves their own needs if they are freed from the tremendous
external pressure being exercised by the Bush administration, the oil
corporations — and the presence of 140,000 members of the American
Iraqs five trade union federations, representing hundreds of
thousands of workers, released a statement opposing the law and
rejecting the handing of control over oil to foreign companies, which
would undermine the sovereignty of the state and the dignity of the
Iraqi people. They ask for more time, less pressure and a chance at
the democracy they have been promised.
Antonia Juhasz, an analyst with Oil Change International, a watchdog
group, is the author of The Bush Agenda: Invading the World, One
Economy at a Time.
What You Can Do
+ Go to the Oil Change International website www.PriceofOil.org
to find an automatic letter you can send to your Congressional
Representative and Senators demanding Hands Off Iraqs Oil!
+ Use this letter and any and all of the background material provided
on the site to write your own Op Ed, Letter to the Editor, language to
use to call-in to a radio show, and a flyer to hand out to your
friends and colleagues.
+ Specifically, you can write a letter to the New York Times in
response to my Op Ed – use the Op Ed as an entry way to have your say
about the oil law and the war for oil. Write no more than 150 words
and send to: [email protected]
+ Participate in Protests against War AND Climate Change on the 4-Year
Anniversary of the Iraq War.
Oil Change International (www.PriceOfOil.org), Global Exchange
(www.Globalexchange.org), and more organizations and groups every day
are joining with Hundreds of communities throughout the US, and the
world to hold protest events on March 17-19, to mark the 4-year
anniversary of the Iraq war.
We urge environmentalists and climate change activists to join with
peace activists and organize protests on these dates at the
headquarters and gas stations of the oil companies leading the charge
in Iraq: Chevron, ExxonMobil, Marathon, ConocoPhillips, Shell and BP.
What better locations to send a message about war, oil and the
consequences of oil addiction?
List your protest at www.unitedforpeace.org.
MARCH 19 – In the Bay Area, Ive joined with activists planning a
Rally, Protest, and Nonviolent Direct Action at Chevrons World
Headquarters on March 19 from 7:00-11:00am in San Ramon. Visit
+ Learn about an international network of organizations organizing
protests under the heading Hands Off Iraqs Oil! Visit their website
+ Share this information with your friends, neighbors, community and colleagues.
+ Hold your own rally, protest, press conference, direct action, or
festival and spread the word!
+ With the media? Contact Celia Alario to arrange for great
interviewees at 310-214-6830 or [email protected]
Learn More – Visit
The people running the United States government are from the energy
industry, said Fredrick D. Palmer, of Peabody Energy, the worlds
largest coal company. They understand it and they believe in energy
supply. – April 21, 2002.
Ida Tarbell Fellow
Oil Change International
Institute for Policy Studies
The Bush Agenda: Invading the World, One Economy at a Time.
by, Antonia Juhasz