Iraq and oil

Louis Proyect lnp3 at
Sun Sep 15 07:32:46 MDT 2002

In Iraqi War Scenario, Oil Is Key Issue
U.S. Drillers Eye Huge Petroleum Pool

By Dan Morgan and David B. Ottaway
Washington Post Staff Writers
Sunday, September 15, 2002; Page A01

A U.S.-led ouster of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein could open a bonanza
for American oil companies long banished from Iraq, scuttling oil deals
between Baghdad and Russia, France and other countries, and reshuffling
world petroleum markets, according to industry officials and leaders of
the Iraqi opposition.

Although senior Bush administration officials say they have not begun to
focus on the issues involving oil and Iraq, American and foreign oil
companies have already begun maneuvering for a stake in the country's
huge proven reserves of 112 billion barrels of crude oil, the largest in
the world outside Saudi Arabia.

The importance of Iraq's oil has made it potentially one of the
administration's biggest bargaining chips in negotiations to win backing
from the U.N. Security Council and Western allies for President Bush's
call for tough international action against Hussein. All five permanent
members of the Security Council -- the United States, Britain, France,
Russia and China -- have international oil companies with major stakes
in a change of leadership in Baghdad.

"It's pretty straightforward," said former CIA director R. James
Woolsey, who has been one of the leading advocates of forcing Hussein
from power. "France and Russia have oil companies and interests in Iraq.
They should be told that if they are of assistance in moving Iraq toward
decent government, we'll do the best we can to ensure that the new
government and American companies work closely with them."

But he added: "If they throw in their lot with Saddam, it will be
difficult to the point of impossible to persuade the new Iraqi
government to work with them."



Louis Proyect

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