This is one of those stories that although you should be outraged about it, you re not surprised at all about it, because you suspected it all along.

On the day that five foreign oil companies get their grubby hands on contracts to help develop Iraq’s oil, the NYT reveals that a small State Department team played an integral part in drawing up the contracts. The American government lawyers and private-sector consultants provided template contracts and detailed suggestions on drafting the contracts.

The disclosure is the first confirmation of direct involvement by the Bush administration in the Iraqi oil deals. It is, in the words of the Times, “likely to stoke criticism.” “We pretend it is not a centerpiece of our motivation, yet we keep confirming that it is,” Frederick D. Barton, a senior adviser at the Center for Strategic and International Studies told the Times. “And we undermine our own veracity by citing issues like sovereignty, when we have our hands right in the middle of it.”

Another leading critic of the Iraqi oil industry Greg Muttitt, from Platform in London,  says that “even the most vehement opponents of oil privatisation do not object to such “technical service contracts” (TSCs): they are a normal model of business, where a company acts as contractor, providing a service to its client, a government or national oil company, for an agreed price.”

But peel beneath the surface, he argues “and the contracts start to look very strange. For a start, the deals are with the wrong companies. The companies which usually carry out TSCs are specialist service providers, like Schlumberger, Saipem or Baker Hughes. They are often hired in for geological, construction or drilling expertise, or to install a piece of technology.”

“In no other country are the likes of BP or ExxonMobil carrying out such TSCs”, says Muttitt. But then in no other country is the prize so big. Or been waited for, for so long. .


  • No responses because it’s no surprise.

    If you have been other than comatose for the past six years you have noticed the accelerated decline of the US. US aggression has at this point put our nation on a level with the German Third Reich. Those responsible feel that they themselves will be insulated from the consequences of their acts, should they fail, by their money.

    They went to Iraq to steal the oil and they’re not going to give up until they’ve done so or killed all the rest of us and rendered the US an impotent shell trying.

  • Although interesting, your article is missing a lot of key information and is too vague to judge the involvement. Helping write contracts or supplying contracts is not the same as “writing” them. Having Exxon/Mobil be the general contractor for exploration may be more sensible than writing numerous smaller contracts. Don’t misunderstand what I’m saying; of course it all looks extraordinarily suspicious. I would simply like more information than just a few sound bites. I would like to truly understand the specifics of these contracts so that I can then say, “see, we knew it”.

    If we ourselves do not dig beneath the sound bites, we render ourselves as simple minded as those that believe the hysteria by Faux News and the like.

  • Surely, there are Iraqi’s in Iraq that know something about the oil business (from cradle to grave) since Iraq has appx. 10% of the world’s known oil reserves.

    Somehow, we have been led to the conclusion that they are neophytes to all of this. It is my opinion that the Iraqi people can and should run their own affairs, and don’t need Exxon/Mobil and their ilk to lead them out of the wilderness.

  • According to Andrew Kramer publishing in IHT a couple weeks ago, the contracts bring back the four oil majors present in the country before Saddam tossed them out. Also, the companies receiving the TSC-like contracts are negotiated to be paid in oil, despite the fact that they are not supposed to share revenue from the fields they develop. However, “A clause in the draft contracts would allow the companies to match bids from competing companies to retain the work once it is opened to bidding”. But according to the platform article, it’s too expensive to develop a bid if another company gets first preference, so “In practice, therefore, the companies with TSAs may well actually get long-term deals on their fields without competition.”

    According to an official from one of the contracted companies, the Iraqi’s gave the short-term no-bid contracts to companies who provided free advice on a particular field, implying 1 company for each field. However, there were 46 companies in Iraq giving advice, with memorandum’s of understanding guaranteeing that each would be considered. Suspicious, but a plausible explanation is that the Iraqis naturally leaned toward companies whose home countries play a part in keeping the Iraqi government in power.

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