Thursday, January 28, 2010

Deja Vu All Over Again

Remember how we were told that Saddam Hussain had been supplied with weapons by the US and UK when it served our purpose to keep him in power, only later to discover that nearly all of the arms recovered after the war were from Russia and France? Well another myth has been exposed.

Call it the 'war for oil' fallacy.

According to Reuters the US oil majors were largely absent from an Iraqi auction of oil deals snapped up instead by Russian, Chinese and other firms.

The Oil Ministry on Saturday ended its second bidding round after awarding seven of the oilfields offered for development, adding to deals from a first auction in June that could together take Iraq up to a capacity to pump 12 million barrels per day.

[...]Russia's Lukoil on Saturday clinched a deal to develop Iraq's supergiant West Qurna Phase Two oilfield after having failed to convince Iraq to bypass the auction and revive an old Saddam Hussein-era deal for the field.

[...]Only one U.S. firm bid in the second round, and of the four fields bid on by U.S. firms in the first round, only Exxon Mobil won a major prize, leading a group to clinch a deal for the supergiant West Qurna Phase One field.

U.S.-based Occidental came away with a quarter stake in a consortium that won a contract for the giant Zubair field.

By contrast, Chinese state oil firms were involved in every first round bid and made a strong showing in the second.

[...]"We haven't really seen U.S. companies, and that is because of intense competition ... The issue is financial and technical and not at all political. This confirms Iraq can manage its oil policy and activities without politicization," said Thamir Ghadhban, a prime ministerial advisor and former oil minister.

As Robin Simcox reflects: "So while the US barely figured, Russia and China - both of who(m) voted against the war - are now both (as they have every right) making finanical gains from the overthrow of Saddam Hussein. However such facts rarely do much to puncture the depressingly prevalent idea that Saddam was overthrown by the US and UK due to an insatiable thirst for oil and financial gain. This blatant misreading of the facts seem to be increasingly accepted wisdom, and it is hard to see what Blair can say at the inquiry to change this."

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