Friday, June 20, 2008

Mission Accomplished

Chicago Tribune - Four Western oil corporations are in the final stages of negotiations this month on contracts that would return them to Iraq.

The talks came to light as the White House and leading House Democrats agreed Wednesday on an emergency spending bill that would provide more than $162 billion for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and create an education benefit for veterans.

In Iraq, Oil Ministry and industry officials said that Exxon Mobil, Shell, Total and BP, along with Chevron and some smaller oil companies, are in talks with the Iraqi ministry for no-bid contracts to service the country's largest fields.

The no-bid deals, expected to be announced June 30, are unusual for the industry, and the offers prevailed over others from more than 40 companies, including ones in Russia, China and India. The contracts would run for one to two years, and are small by industry standards, but would give the companies an advantage in bidding on future contracts in a country that many experts consider the best hope for a large-scale increase in oil production.

There was suspicion among many in the Arab world and among parts of the American public that the U.S. had gone to war in Iraq to secure the oil wealth these contracts seek to extract. The Bush administration has said the war was necessary to combat terrorism. It is unclear what role the U.S. played in awarding the contracts; there are still American advisers to Iraq's Oil Ministry.