All The Oil Companies Got Iraq for Its Birthday Was a 25 Percent Stake in Its Own Oil
It’s eerie and uncomfortable and inappropriate that there isn’t much notice that six years ago today, the United States invaded Iraq. Maybe that’s natural now that the Obama administration is ending the war. Maybe it’s an indication of a cultural exhaustion with Iraq. We who don’t live in Iraq or serve in it should not take this anniversary without reflection.
At least the oil companies don’t. The New York Times reports that *they’re *going to get a present: as much as a 75 percent stake in Iraq’s oil and gas fields:
Under a formal process created last year, companies have been asked to bid openly for the right to take part in expanding Iraq’s oil production. But many companies have been skeptical of the country’s terms, saying they lacked enough incentives. At the same time, Iraq’s improved security has meant that foreign companies are eager to invest in the country after decades of wars and sanctions kept them out.
Iraq’s oil minister, Hussain al-Shahristani, addressing a conference hosted by OPEC in Vienna on Wednesday, also suggested for the first time that Iraq would consider allowing foreign companies to share directly in the profits from oil production, rather than the fixed fees in the joint ventures that are now offered.
So the Iraqi government is offering a fire sale on its oil sector to multinational oil companies. Transparency International’s 2008 corruption index ranked Iraq as 178 out of 180, indicating Iraq’s severe corruption environment. Obviously Iraq needs a healthy economy, and obviously a healthy economy requires investment. But is it too cynical to ask what Shahristani and others might get out of this deal?
Six years ago today the United States invaded Iraq.