Tuesday, March 13, 2007

The emperor wears no clothes: Part II

There is a "hydrocarbon law" pending before the Iraqi parliament. As reported several weeks ago here, this law would open up Iraqi oil production to private oil companies, giving them unprecedented access to the world's third largest oil reserves.

As outlined here, the contracts awarded to oil companies under the law are so-called "production sharing agreements", which are "roundly rejected by all the top oil producing countries in the Middle East because they grant long-term contracts (20 to 35 years in the case of Iraq’s draft law) and greater control, ownership and profits to the companies than other models."

I personally feel that this structure may be very beneficial to Iraq's economy (and in turn, the well-being of its citizenry), at least in the short term. At present, Iraq has a very poor oil production infrastructure and very little of its own expertise in maximizing profits from its oil resources. So, this may be a good idea.

But, what I can't seem to wrap my head around is how the facts surrounding this law are not receiving far more play in the media. A Google News search turns up very few articles, most from what appear to be "alternative" sources (e.g., Green Party U.S., Earthtimes, The Progress Report, and (of course) Al Jazeera (caution: clicking on the Al Jazeera link will probably put you on one of Mr. Alberto Gonzales' many lists of citizens in need of re-education)).

Despite this, the Iraq hydrocarbon law is not terrorist-loving liberal hippie propaganda. In fact, it is a "key linchpin" (according to Tony Snow, as quoted in Oilweek magazine) in the Bush administration's Iraq plan. Apparently, without anyone noticing, the passage of this law has been made one of the administration's "benchmarks" set for withdrawal of U.S. military forces.

According to someone on the NYT editorial page, "the Bush administration has been aggressive in shepherding the oil law toward passage", and the Iraqi parliament is under "tremendous external pressure being exercised by the Bush administration, the oil corporations — and the presence of 140,000 members of the American military."

The NYT??? Yes, they have an editorial on this, apparently written by a crackpot terrorist lover: "Antonia Juhasz, an analyst with Oil Change International, a watchdog group, is the author of “The Bush Agenda: Invading the World, One Economy at a Time.”". But not a single news article that I can find.

Very odd. I'm wondering if the MST (yes, I'm using a stupid blog-speak acronym. Kill me.) is reluctant to approach this, because then they will inevitably be forced into the "Oh, wait, so that's why we invaded Iraq" angle, and they just really, really hope in their hearts that that angle is not the correct one.

Or maybe it just isn't a big thing.

Hopefully more to come.

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