Saudis worried over post-war resumption of full Iraqi oil production

Juan Fajardo fajardos at
Sun Feb 16 19:45:15 MST 2003

Saudis worry Iraq war could create oil rival
If attack succeeds, Baghdad's output could top kingdom's

Robert Collier, Chronicle Staff Writer

Ras Tanura, Saudi Arabia -- Pipes, ducts, tanks, towers and an infinite
variety of refining, storage and shipping facilities stretch for miles
along the desert seashore, resonating with a low, almost imperceptible hum.

This is the heart of the Saudi oil empire, an empire that has made the
conservative kingdom an indispensable U.S. ally in the Mideast.

To talk about the place is to make superlatives seem almost banal -- Ras
Tanura is the world's largest petroleum products export facility, owned
by the world's largest oil firm, in a nation that is the world's largest
petroleum producer.

But Saudis are worried that their empire may soon be eclipsed by a
powerful new challenger rising out of the ashes of war -- Iraq.


"If the United States takes over Iraq and Iraqi production rises
dramatically, Saudi Arabia will lose position in the market and
political influence with the United States," said a strategic planning
executive for Saudi Aramco, the state-owned oil monopoly.


"If Iraq gets a democratic government open to foreign investment, there
would be an alternate source of oil supply to (that of) the Saudis, so
we wouldn't have to defer to their blackmail, their use of the (oil)
revenues that we give them for activities that are very jihadist and
dangerous," said Frank Gaffney, a Pentagon adviser and president of the
Center for Security Policy, a Washington think tank.


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