BAGHDAD — When Iraq puts development rights to some of its largest oil fields up for auction to foreign companies on Monday, the bidding will be a watershed moment, representing the first chance for petroleum giants like ExxonMobil to tap into the resources of a country they were kicked out of almost 40 years ago.
The oil companies are also somewhat disgruntled, being forced to compete for 20-year service contracts and not the more lucrative production sharing agreements they would prefer. Such agreements would allow them to share directly in the profits from oil production, rather than getting fixed fees.
In other words, they wanted something akin to the deal the Americans wrote for them exactly one year ago:
In their role as advisers to the Iraqi Oil Ministry, American government lawyers and private-sector consultants provided template contracts and detailed suggestions on drafting the contracts, advisers and a senior State Department official said.
That deal was withdrawn as it stoked outrage not only among Americans but in Iraq as well. As I wrote at the time, it was a little fishy that the contracts were awarded to the very same companies Saddam Hussein had kicked out of the country when he took power in the 1970s. You can’t really talk about “the central front in the war on terror” and “breeding Democracy in the Middle East” and all that other hogwash when you’re literally writing the contracts restoring foreign oil companies to their former status before the dictator you just deposed took power. At the time, the New York Times called it
a twist of corporate history for some of the world’s largest companies, [that] all four oil majors that had lost their concessions in Iraq are now back.
Oh, liberal media! You are adorable! A mere twist of corporate history, the turn of the karmic wheel. Just luck!
Anyway, as Bill Maher said at last night’s Ryman show, “if you’re going to invade a country for oil, at least get some damn oil!” So, Mission Accomplished.
That said, I do not want to hear any more whining from conservatives about the recently-passed American Clean Energy and Security Act (aka, “cap-and-trade” or the Climate Bill) as being a job crushing, tax-increasing boondoggle.
Don’t you even start with me about this being a “carbon tax” -- what do you think the Iraq War has been? The one that cost $700 billion in direct costs, is estimated to cost $1 trillion before all’s said and done, has killed thousands of Americans, wounded thousands more, destroyed our credibility on the world stage, and divided the country, all to maintain the status quo of an oil-based economy. How long will we be paying that bill, do you think?
Congressmen Jim Cooper and Bart Gordon get my thanks for voting to pass the climate bill, though other so-called “Democrats” in Tennessee didn’t have the courage (yes, Lincoln Davis and John Tanner, I’m looking at you. For shame!)
Lamar Alexander voted for the Iraq War, the bloodiest carbon tax this country has ever enacted. Bob Corker has indicated he at least understands the issues of climate change but he’s trying to prove his conservative bonafides, so I don’t hold out much hope for him supporting a bill that has generated ire from the tea-bag crowd. But he’s been known to surprise me.
All of which means to say: when we're talking about energy policy, let's not forget what the Iraq War was about.