Black Blood = 21st Century Oil Rush

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Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki responded forcefully by sending the army and issuing arrest warrants against the union's leaders. Iraqi unions are a strong, secular voice against oil privatization and the occupation in general. The Iraqi Cabinet approved a hydrocarbon law that will allow foreign companies to control Iraq's vast oil resources. In order to avoid controversy, the term Production Sharing Agreements was replaced by Exploration and Risk Contracts, but both mean that Iraq is renouncing its sovereignty and handing over exclusive rights and huge profits to private oil companies.

According to Ewa Jasiewicz, a researcher at PLATFORM , "the law's unfair, untransparent and undemocratic provisions reflect the influence and interests of external actors, namely the US and British governments and their major oil companies.

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The revised draft of the Iraqi oil law is expected to go to the Parliament for debate and ratification, if approved by the Iraqi cabinet. Nevertheless, this law still faces controversy. A key trade union of oil workers declared it would oppose the law, claiming the legislation was "unbalanced and incoherent with the hopes of those who work in the oil industry. Observers expect the Iraqi Parliament to pass legislation re-shaping the country's oil industry. The semi-autonomous Kurdish region in northern Iraq has already signed agreements with small oil companies, and the central government in Baghdad fears that this could set a precedent in the oil-rich South.

Further, no consensus exists on the sharing of oil revenues, the types of contracts to award foreign oil companies and the creation of the Iraqi National Oil Company. These issues could lead to further opposition to the occupation. Global Policy Forum distributes this material without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. We believe this constitutes a fair use of any such copyrighted material as provided for in 17 U. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

Oil in Iraq. Picture Credit: The Independent Iraq has the world's second largest proven oil reserves.

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Analysis Articles Tables and Charts Analysis Oil in Iraqi History On this page we post many materials on the history of Iraq's oil and the international struggles to control it. Of special interest is information on the control of Iraq oil in the World War I era, the role of the international companies in Iraq and the Middle East, and the disputes leading up to Iraq's oil nationalization in The author sheds light on the falsity of assertions by Washington that the war was not about oil and suggests reasons why the Bush administration has failed to fulfill its dreams of a privatized oil sector in Iraq.

James Paul sifts carefully through the document to discover details of a secret lobbying meeting in London in May , just two months after the Coalition ousted Saddam Hussein. Participants see Washington handing out the contracts, not the Iraqis, and they worry that an Australian bid, even with Anglo-Dutch Shell as a partner, may not win sufficient favor with the Pentagon. Greg Muttitt's bombshell paper confirms what many have long suspected -- the big US and UK companies have enormous interest in Iraq's giant untapped oilfields. He shows clearly how the companies have been angling to gain control of those fields and now, under the occupation, they are closing in on their goal.

Production Sharing Agreements, the companies' favorite legal ploy, have already been negotiated with pliant Iraqi officials. Platform, Global Policy Forum and others. This short paper estimates potential long-term profits by private oil companies in Iraq. At issue was control of a large oilfield in Iraq. According to these minutes, the Anglo-Australian mining company was planning to "register an early bid" with the US government to "secure the Halfayah field investment" in partnership with Anglo-Dutch oil giant Shell. The cable refers to other negotiations by major oil companies for Iraq's biggest fields.

The talks, which occurred in London, took place just two months after the Australians joined the UK and the US in the invasion of Iraq and shortly before the US president prematurely declared "victory. Participants clearly considered that the US would mainly control the division of the oil, rather than any future Iraqi government.

Paul analyzes the influence of Iraq's oil on UN sanctions policy.

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Behind the threatened war on Iraq, there is a US drive for "free access" to Iraqi oil and control by US and UK companies over Iraq's vast riches in oil and gas resources. International oil companies stand to profit enormously from control over Iraq's high-quality, plentiful oil supply and lucrative gas reserves.

Time to Move on: Iraq's Oil and Gas Impasse Explained The controversial contract signed by oil giant Exxon with the semi-autonomous state of Kurdistan has created severe tensions between the government in Baghdad and Kurdistan.


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As the US begins to withdraw from Iraq, former US officials are cashing in by building strong political and business ties with the oil-rich Kurdish region of the country. Many such former officials have also expressed support for the Kurdish right to statehood, thus contradicting the stated US policy of maintaining a neutral stance towards all groups in Iraq.

If successful, this move could be one of the largest expansions of crude-oil production ever-achieved. The multi-national corporations argue that employment, improved infrastructure and increased government revenues will be the knock-on effect of the investments. However, foreign-exploitation of natural resources is often rife with problems. As the Iraq government will administer the contracts directly, a system of transparency and accountability is necessary.

But Iraq is notoriously corrupt and it lacks experienced managers, auditing systems and reliable enforcement. So it seems doubtful that Iraq can properly monitor these contracts - with companies already known for their bad Iraq performance in the past. Parliamentarian Shatha al-Musawi has sued the Iraqi Prime Minister and Oil Minister on the grounds that the oil contracts with foreign companies are unconstitutional. In order for an oil contract to become legal the Council of Ministers has to give its approval.

In the case of the Rumaila contract, this approval resembled little more than a rubber stamp.

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The Council of Ministers agreed on the contract after only one meeting and did not wait for the opinion of its legal advisor, who raised no less than 65 critical observations in his subsequent memorandum. Middle East Economic Survey. November 14, Back in Britain and the US were shut out from the oil-producing contracts Saddam Hussein's government was negotiating. Seeking to justify himself in front of a US audience, he states that his business interest "was consistent with [his] political views.

This will add to the questions surrounding Iraq's highly decentralized constitution. Former US diplomat Peter Galbraith played a prominent role in the structuring of post-war Iraq, ardently and often successfully advocating for a strongly decentralized state.

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Galbraith's stakes in the oilfield suggest that his push for partition might not always have been motivated solely by an idealist belief in Kurdistani self-determination. China has become the first foreign company to sign an oil production deal with the Iraqi government. However the residents of nearby al-Mazzagh, next to the designated oil field, receive no benefits. Expected employment opportunities have not materialized and the oil company drills on the villagers' land but provides no compensation. In response the residents have been committing acts of sabotage and warn of trouble ahead if they do not start receiving tangible benefits from the deal.

BBC News. The future of Iraq's oil resources remains uncertain. The Oil Ministry hosted a major nergy auction on June 30 with a plan to develop many oil fields. Only two companies made a bid and won a contract.

Munir Chalabi details the conflict surrounding Oil Minster Sharastani's ambiguous policies, as well as the international companies' maneuvers for control and de facto privatization. The Ministry plans to develop up to eight oil and gas fields throughout the country.


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Iraq's unions seek to mobilize people against the deal, which they believe will create greater unemployment in the oil sector and violates Iraqi law. Iraq's unions have been weak since Saddam's union ban in , but the head of Parliament's Oil and Gas Committee argues that democracy is taking hold in Iraq and, as such, unions will one day regain power.

In spite of efforts to conceal the matter, US interest in Iraqi oil has never been a secret. Paul O'Neill, Bush's first Treasury Secretary, wrote a book that described the administration's plans to control Iraq's oil reserves. As the US begins its withdrawal from Iraqi cities, after 6 years of occupation, much more evidence has accumulated that the US invaded and ruled Iraq with oil as the main policy goal.

ZNet reports that large Iraqi oil and gas reserves will be privatized under US influence. The author suggests that the Iraqi government, the oil ministry in Baghdad and the Kurdish Regional Government want to open up to international oil companies. Shell has already acquired a 49 percent share in a joint venture with the Iraqi national gas company. Furthermore, the Iraqi government is working on a new oil and gas privatization law that will lead to large additional foreign stakes in the country's hydrocarbon resources.

He suggests that the real reason for the invasion was US interest in oil.

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King contends that in a world with growing resource shortages the Iraq war was the first "resource war" of the century, in which "powerful nations [will] secure the resources for their own people at the expense of others. Iraq's parliamentary oil and gas committee vows to challenge the agreement between the Oil Ministry and Shell concerning the production of gas in southern Iraq. Committee member Noor al Deen denounces the agreement for lacking transparency and argues that Shell will have a complete monopoly on gas in southern Iraq. Jim Fine argues that Washington will seek to control Iraq's oil resources, irrespective of whether the Iraqi Parliament passes the Status of Forces Agreement.

President Bush issued a signing statement excusing himself from a provision in the Defense Authorization Bill, intended to curtail US power over Iraq's oil. This article states that the next two months will measure just how far Washington will go to fulfill its objectives for the occupation. The Iraqi government plans to give foreign oil companies, such as Shell, BP and Exxon-Mobil, access to 40 percent of Iraq's oil reserves.

Issam al-Chalabi, former Iraqi oil minister between to , disapproves of the deal and states that Iraq is needlessly giving away Iraq's oil to foreign companies. Shell enjoys a close relationship with the US and annually receives US military contracts worth billions of dollars. Shell plans to expand its operations in Iraq but many Iraqis view Shell as exploiting Iraq's oil resources with little benefit for the Iraqi people.