Iraq is preparing to allow four of the biggest western oil companies to renew exploitation of the country's vast reserves for the first time in almost four decades.
Iraq's oil ministry stepped up talks with BP, Exxon Mobil, Shell and Total after the US vice-president, Dick Cheney, visited Iraq in March, where he also pressed the government to revive efforts to pass the hydrocarbon law that nationalist MPs were blocking. The first contracts are expected to be signed this month. Some 90% of Iraq's budget comes from oil revenues.
Iraq's oil minister, Hussain al-Shahristani, told the Guardian this week that the deals did not amount to the privatisation of the country's oil. But the four companies are heirs to the consortium given the concession to control Iraq's oil by King Faisal, the foreign Sunni Arab whom the British imposed on Iraq's majority Shia population after occupying the country during the first world war. They lost their right to explore new fields in 1961 after the monarchy was overthrown, and nationalisation followed under the Ba'ath party.
This is also a ...cough..shocker..these contracts were not competitively bid. I do love how Mr. Halliburton dropped in for a visit in Iraq in March. The Big Dick Cheney can finally say his work is done there..fucker.
Artwork by The Worried Shrimp.