To the Victors Go the Spoils of War

In the hours and days before the United States and Britain invaded Iraq, a team of British Petroleum (BP) engineers in Kuwait taught combat troops from the 516 Specialist Team Royal Engineers how to run the oil fields in southern Iraq. As soon as the troops had secured southern Iraq, Robert Spears, a Scottish manager from BP, was drafted by the British government to help direct the effort to rebuild the refineries.
In mid-July BP took possession of its reward -- one of the first tankers of oil from Southern Iraq, having won 25% of the initial sale of 8 million barrels of the existing stockpiles of Iraqi oil. The previous month California-based Chevron shipped back an equal quantity of oil from southern Iraq.
Retired engineers from Royal Dutch/Shell Group also helped in training the troops in Nottingham, England. Once the oilfields had been seized by the invaders, company workers were drafted by the British army and sent into southern Iraq to help with the reconstruction.

“We leveraged the private sector,” US Brigadier General Robert Crear commented to the Wall Street Journal. Crear commands the Southwestern Division of the United States Army Corps of Engineers, which is in charge of reconstruction efforts in Iraq.
While the Bush Administration is under fire for failing to produce a single Iraqi weapon of mass destruction three months after the official close of the war, critics claim that the motive for the invasion all along was control of Iraqi oil. And if the bonanza in oil contracts won by giant oil companies is any indication, Washington is moving swiftly to secure access to Iraq’s oil wealth once and for all.

Shell along with Chevron, BP and seven other oil giants, have won contracts to buy Iraq’s new oil production of Basra Light crude. The contracts cover production from the Mina Al-Bakr port in southern Iraq from August to December of this year. Under the deal, Iraq will supply 645,000 barrels per day (bpd) for export, an increase on the 450,000 bpd produced in July but still just a third of pre-war levels.
BP and Shell will each send one very large tanker every month to Iraq to pick up their two million barrels. Among the other companies that have signed deals to buy the oil are ConocoPhillips, Valero Energy and Marathon Oil, Total of France, Sinochem of China and a company from the Mitsubishi group, which is buying for Japanese refineries.

Legally there is not much that the Iraqis can do to contest this in the United States because of an executive order signed by president George Bush in late May. Executive order number 13303 states “any attachment, judgment, decree, lien, execution, garnishment, or other judicial process is prohibited, and shall be deemed null and void”, with respect to “all Iraqi petroleum and petroleum products, and interests therein.”
With this, Bush granted Iraqi oil a lifetime exemption provided US companies are involved in the oil’s production, transport, or distribution. This order applies to Iraqi oil products that are “in the United States, hereafter come within the United States, or that are or hereafter come within the possession or control of United States persons.” (Under US law, corporations are “persons.”)

“In other words, if ExxonMobil or ChevronTexaco touch Iraqi oil, anything they or anyone else does with it is immune from legal proceedings in the US,” explained Jim Vallette, an analyst with the Sustainable Energy & Economy Network of the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington DC.

“Anything that has happened before with oil companies around the world -- a massive tanker accident; an explosion at an oil refinery; the employment of slave labor to build a pipeline; murder of locals by corporate security; the release of billions of tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere; or lawsuits by Iraq’s current creditors or the next true Iraqi government demanding compensation -- anything at all, is immune from judicial accountability,” he says.

“Effectively Bush has unilaterally declared Iraqi oil to be the unassailable province of US oil corporations,” Vallette added.

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To the Victors Go the Spoils of War
British Petroleum, Shell and Chevron Win Iraqi Oil Contracts
by Pratap Chatterjee and Oula Al Farawati,

CorpWatch August 8th, 2003


The Carter Doctrine Goes Global

In the first U.S. combat operation of the war in Iraq, Navy commandos stormed an offshore oil-loading platform. “Swooping silently out of the Persian Gulf night, Navy Seals seized two Iraqi oil terminals in bold raids that ended early this morning, overwhelming lightly armed Iraqi guards and claiming a bloodless victory in the battle for Iraq’s vast oil empire,” wrote an overexcited reporter for The New York Times.
A year and a half later, American soldiers are still struggling to maintain control over these vital facilities-and the fighting is no longer bloodless.

George W. Bush’s Iraq War, while duplicitous in many respects, is actually the culmination of twenty-five years of U.S. policy to ensure continued domination of the Persian Gulf and its prolific oil fields. In fact, it was a natural expression of the Carter Doctrine. Enunciated by then-President Jimmy Carter in his State of the Union speech in January 1980, the doctrine defines Persian Gulf oil as a “vital interest” of the United States that must be defended “by any means necessary, including military force.” Seen in this light, Bush Jr. was merely applying the doctrine when he invaded Iraq in 2003. He’s not the first. President Reagan cited it to justify U.S. intervention in the Iran-Iraq War of 1980-1988 to help ensure the defeat of Iran. President Bush Sr. invoked it to authorize military action against Iraq in 1991, during the first Gulf War. And Bill Clinton, though not explicitly citing the doctrine, adhered to its tenets.

So the use of force to ensure U.S. access to Persian Gulf oil is not a Bush II policy or a Republican policy, but a bipartisan, American policy.

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The Carter Doctrine Goes Global
[Persian Gulf oil policy]
by Michael T. Kiare

The Progressive magazine, December 2004