British and US companies expected to win Iraq oil contracts
Thursday, 03 July 2008


The Iraqi government is to award a series of key oil contracts to British and American companies later today, fuelling criticism that the Iraq war was largely about oil.

The successful companies are expected to include Shell, BP, Exxon Mobil, Chevron and Total.

Non-Western companies, notably those in Russia, are expected to lose out.

The technical support contracts will give the companies access to Iraq's vast untapped oil fields. Oil production in Iraq is at its highest level since the invasion in 2003. But the Iraqi government wants to increase oil production by 20%, as the country has an estimated 115 billion barrels of crude oil reserves.

The US State Department was involved in drawing up the contracts, the New York Times reported today, citing US officials.

They provided template contracts and suggestions on drafting but were not involved in the decisions, the officials insisted.

Democratic senators last week lobbied that the awarding of the contracts should be delayed until after the Iraqi parliament passes laws on the distribution of oil revenues.

Frederick Barton, senior adviser at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies, told the paper: "We pretend it [oil] is not a centerpiece of our motivation, yet we keep confirming that it is."

Last year Alan Greenspan, the former chairman of the Federal Reserve said: "Everyone knows: the Iraq war is largely about oil."

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