Seamus Milne on Iraq’s Oil

There is a good reason why Upstream Online is popular amongst workers in the oil and gas industry as opposed to say, Seamus Milne of the Guardian.  Via Tim Worstall, here is the latter:

[F]our of the western world’s largest oil corporations are due to sign contracts for the renewed exploitation of Iraq’s vast reserves. Initially, these are to be two-year deals to boost production in Iraq’s largest oilfields. But not only did the four energy giants – BP, Exxon Mobil, Shell and Total – write their own contracts with the Iraqi government, an unheard-of practice: they have also reportedly secured rights of first refusal on the far more lucrative 30-year production contracts expected once a new US-sponsored oil law is passed, allowing a wholesale western takeover. Big Oil is back with a vengeance.

Milne offers no source for his assertion that BP, Exxon Mobil, Shell and Total wrote their own contracts, which is odd given that stating as fact something previously unheard-of usually requires evidence of such.  But of more interest is what Milne chose to leave out, and what Upstream Online chose to leave in:

Iraq has published a list of 35 companies that it said are qualified to bid for future oil and gas contracts, a government spokesman said.

“Up to now, 35 companies have been qualified out of 120 companies that presented their documentation to the oil ministry,” government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said at a press conference, Reuters reported.

35 companies have qualified?  So not just BP, Exxon Mobil, Shell and Total, then.

The 35 companies shortlisted are:

  • Marathon Oil (US)
  • BG International (UK)
  • Mitsubushi Corporation (Japan) 
  • BHP Billiton (Australia/UK)
  • Nexen (Canada)
  • BP (UK)
  • Nippon Oil (Japan) 
  • Chevron (US)
  • Occidental Petroleum (US)
  • China National Offshore Oil Corporation (China)
  • Oil & Natural Gas Corporation (India)
  • China National Petroleum Corporation (China)
  • Petronas (Malaysia)
  • ConocoPhillips (US)
  • Pertamina (Indonesia)
  • Edison International (US)
  • Premier (UK)
  • Eni (Italy)
  • Repsol YPF (Spain) 
  • ExxonMobil (US)
  • Shell (UK/Netherlands)
  • Hess (US)
  • Sinochem (China)
  • Inpex (Japan)
  • Sinopec (China)
  • Japex (Japan)
  • StatoilHydro (Norway)
  • Gazprom Neft (Russia)
  • Total (France)
  • Kogas (South Korea)
  • Wintershall BASF (Germany)
  • Lukoil (Russia)
  • Woodside (Australia)
  • Maersk (Denmark)
  • Anadarko (US)

According to Seamus Milne, the above represents a “full imperial package” on the part of the US.  If so, it’s a pretty cack-handed attempt at imperialism if that is the outcome.


3 thoughts on “Seamus Milne on Iraq’s Oil

  1. Is “right of first refusal” the same thing as “qualified to bid”? Doesn’t sound like it to me. And if that’s the case, the question to me is why Upstream Online left out that detail.

  2. I imagine Upstream Online left out the bit about “right of first refusal” because it is in all likelihood pure fabrication. Note that Seamus Milne gets around this by simply putting “reportedly” in front of the claim.

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