News Release

Was the Iraq Invasion for Oil After All?

The New York Times reported Monday: “A group of American advisers led by a small State Department team played an integral part in drawing up contracts between the Iraqi government and five major Western oil companies to develop some of the largest fields in Iraq, American officials say.”

Columnist Bob Herbert writes today: “President Bush and Vice President Cheney, both former oil-company executives, have long tried to tell us this war was about terrorism, about weapons of mass destruction, about bringing freedom and democracy to the Iraqi people, about anything but oil.”

JAMES PAUL
Executive director of the Global Policy Forum, Paul has written several pieces about oil including “Oil in Iraq: The Heart of the Crisis,” featured on the group’s “Oil in Iraq” web page.

Paul said today: “The Iraqi government of Nouri al-Maliki has taken another step this week towards opening up the country’s oil resources to control by Western companies. Even the cautious New York Times is suggesting foul play. A new round of immensely profitable oil deals has just been announced by Iraqi Oil Minister Sharastani, in which giants like Exxon Mobil can nail down long-term contracts and take away a large share of the oil from several key operating fields, like the massive Rumaila and West Qurna, some of the world’s largest. Oil can be produced in these fields for about one dollar a barrel, while its value on world markets is now around $140. With hundreds of millions of dollars of profits at stake — and while the U.S. occupation remains in full force — the oil giants are making their move, seeking to bypass opposition in the Iraqi parliament and ignoring suspicion and anger among the Iraqi public. With world oil supplies visibly running short and oil prices skyrocketing, this is a desperate gamble to control some of the world’s largest and most lucrative fields, at huge human and environmental cost.”

ANTONIA JUHASZ
Juhasz is the author of the forthcoming book The Tyranny of Oil and is with the group Oil Change International. She is quoted in today’s Washington Post.

She said today: “First, the news is that these contracts have not yet been signed, which is a clear indication of the strength of the opposition — both in Iraq and globally — to this undemocratic process. Second, in light of yesterday’s New York Times article, the U.S. Congress should be looking closely at whether the Bush administration is contravening the Biden Amendment, which bars the use of U.S. funds “to exercise United States control over the oil infrastructure or oil resources of Iraq.”
More Information

EWA JASIEWICZ
Jasiewicz is a campaigner with the London-based group Hands Off Iraqi Oil, which maintains an up-to-date webpage on the issue.

SABAH JAWAD
London-based spokesperson for Naftana, a support committee for the Iraqi Federation of Oil Unions, Jawad said today: “The announcement yesterday from the Iraqi oil minister happened because he has not been able to get Production Sharing Agreements through the Iraqi parliament because of wide-scale opposition in Iraq. What is being attempted during this occupation of Iraq — the defacto privatization of Iraq’s oil — is unique in the contemporary Mideast. Throughout the region, the oil is owned and fundamentally run by the state and its companies. The oil ministry is also subjecting the Iraqi oil unions to extreme harassment, using draconian Saddam-era laws.”

MICHAEL EISENSCHER
Eisenscher is national coordinator for U.S. Labor Against War, a coalition of U.S. labor unions which has been supporting the Iraqi oil worker unions. He said today: “It now appears that energy corporations that had been the principal exploiters of Iraqi oil and gas prior to government nationalization in 1972 are once again poised to recover their lucrative privileged positions. This shameful turn of events completes a process begun by the illegal invasion and occupation of Iraq by U.S. and British forces in 2003. Notwithstanding all of the denials issued by the Bush administration and its international and domestic partners in crime, the announcement this week that Exxon Mobil, Shell, BP, Total and Chevron are expected to be awarded oil field development contracts by the Iraqi government confirms what critics of the war have charged all along — the principal objective of the invasion and occupation has been and continues to be Western control over Iraqi oil and gas.”

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167