It's about oil. Period.

Louis Proyect lnp3 at
Sun Nov 3 08:58:45 MST 2002

Focus: Iraq

Carve-up of oil riches begins

US plans to ditch industry rivals and force end of Opec, write Peter
Beaumont and Faisal Islam

Sunday November 3, 2002
The Observer

The leader of the London-based Iraqi National Congress, Ahmed Chalabi,
has met executives of three US oil multinationals to negotiate the
carve-up of Iraq's massive oil reserves post-Saddam.

Disclosure of the meetings in October in Washington - confirmed by an
INC spokesman - comes as Lord Browne, the head of BP, has warned that
British oil companies have been squeezed out of post-war Iraq even
before the first shot has been fired in any US-led land invasion.

Confirming the meetings to US journalists, INC spokesman Zaab Sethna
said: 'The oil people are naturally nervous. We've had discussions with
them, but they're not in the habit of going around talking about them.'

Next month oil executives will gather at a country retreat near
Sandringham to discuss Iraq and the future of the oil market. The
conference, hosted by Sheikh Yamani, the former Oil Minister of Saudi
Arabia, will feature a former Iraqi head of military intelligence, an
ex-Minister and City financiers. Topics for discussion include the
country's oil potential, whether it can become as big a supplier as
Saudi Arabia, and whether a post-Saddam Iraq might destroy the
Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries.

Disclosure of talks between the oil executives and the INC - which
enjoys the support of Bush administration officials - is bound to
exacerbate friction on the UN Security Council between permanent members
and veto-holders Russia, France and China, who fear they will be
squeezed out of a post-Saddam oil industry in Iraq.

Although Russia, France and China have existing deals with Iraq, Chalabi
has made clear that he would reward the US for removing Saddam with
lucrative oil contracts, telling the Washington Post recently: 'American
companies will have a big shot at Iraqi oil.'

Indeed, the issue of who gets their hands on the world's second largest
oil reserves has been a major factor driving splits in the Security
Council over a new resolution on Iraq.

If true, it is hardly surprising, given the size of the potential deals.
As of last month, Iraq had reportedly signed several
multi-billion-dollar deals with foreign oil companies, mainly from
China, France and Russia.



Louis Proyect

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