17.3.13//FAB / OIL – AND EARTH

We bring to the attention of our readers this incisive overview of the US led “battle for oil” by Professor Eric Waddell. The article was first published more than ten years ago in November 2002, during the critical period leading up to the invasion of Iraq.

What is ultimately at stake in Iraq is the intention on the part of the U.S. and its indefectible British ally to establish control over one of the world largest, cheapest and most easily accessible oil reserves.

The war against Iraq is being fought on behalf of the Anglo-American oil giants: BP, Exxon-Mobil, Chevron-Texaco, Shell. The first objective is to secure the control by US-UK forces of Iraq’s oil facilities in the Persian Gulf.

The US domestic consumption of oil exceeds 20 million barrels per day, 26% of total World consumption, an amount higher than the yearly consumption for all of Europe and all of Africa combined. U.S. oil imports constitute 56% of total consumption and are expected to reach 66% by 2020.

The U.S. contains only 2.8% of total proven world oil reserves. Two-thirds of the world’s proven oil and natural gas reserves are in the Middle East (notably Saudi Arabia, the Gulf States, Iran and Iraq). Very substantial oil and natural gas reserves are located in the overlapping region of the Caspian Sea basin (Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Russia, Turkmenistan and Iran). Tentative estimates provided by the Energy Information Administration, place total (proven and possible) oil reserves at 243 billion barrels, or in excess of 25% of present global reserves),1 Iraq currently produces 11% of the world’s oil and it ranks only second to Saudi Arabia in the size of its reserves (112 billion barrels). Exploitation costs are less than half those of deep sea drilling.

Direct access to the Persian Gulf and the Indian Ocean ensures strategically secure oil supply routes. The Anglo-American oil giants (BP, Chevron-Texaco, Shell, Exxon) are all absent from Iran and Iraq, which have signed oil contracts and production sharing agreements with French, Russian and Chinese oil companies. Because of the UN sanctions on Iraq, the agreements signed by Baghdad are not (“officially”) operational.

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