Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Oil Pressure: A History of U.S. Involvement in Iraq’s Oil Development

Feb.-March 2001: White House Energy Taskforce produces a list of “Foreign Suitors for Iraqi Oilfield Contracts.”3

December 2002-April 2003: U.S. State Department Oil and Energy Working Group brought together influential Iraqi exiles, U.S. government officials, and international consultants. The result of the project’s work was a “draft framework for Iraq’s oil policy” that would form the foundation for the energy policy now being considered by the Iraqi Parliament. The final report noted that Iraq “should be opened to international oil companies as quickly as possible after the war.4 Later, several Iraqi members of the group became part of the Iraqi government. The Group included future Iraqi Oil Minister, Bahr al-Uloum.

January 2003: The Wall Street Journal reported that representatives from Exxon Mobil Corp., ChevronTexaco Corp., ConocoPhillips, and Halliburton, among others, were meeting with Vice President Cheney’s staff to plan the post-war revival of Iraq’s oil industry.5


April 19, 2007: Defense Secretary Robert Gates travels to Baghdad to push political benchmarks and specifically the oil law.34

May 9 2007: U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney travels to Baghdad to push political benchmarks and specifically the oil law.35

June 12, 2007: U.S. Admiral Fallon, head of the Central Command, warned Iraq’s Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki in a closed-door conversation to pass the oil law by July.36

July 3, 2007: Iraq cabinet approves oil law draft.37

July 12, 2007: The White House released its Initial Benchmark Assessment Report. Benchmark #3, “Enacting and implementing legislation to ensure the equitable distribution of hydrocarbon resources” is found to be not met. The report notes, “The effect of limited progress toward this benchmark has been to reduce the perceived confidence in, and effectiveness of, the Iraqi Government. This does not, however, necessitate a revision to our current plan and strategy, under which we have assigned a high priority to this subject, and the process overall has continued to move forward.”38

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