There's a dictum regarding oil that's taken as an article of faith in the world of Black Gold. It's not how much oil there is, so much as who controls the supply. The ability to pump oil is not so much an issue, as the power to shut it off.
Right now, Saudi Arabia is said to hold the world's greates oil reserves. estimated at around 250 billion barrels. However, there's another country with a proven reserve of at least 112 billion barrels and the potential for those reserve figures to go as high as 200 to 300 billion, owing to the fact that exploration is far from being comprehensive and complete. Yes, of course - it's Iraq.
Not only does Iraq have immense oil reserves, it's also the cheapest oil in the world to extract owing to underground pressure; roughly $2 a barrel. Combine this with a desparately available labour force that will work for peon wages and you've got the lowest production costs on the planet. Oh, and fortunately, the US army's already there.
Anyone whose been awake and paying attention knows full well the real goal of the Iraqi invasion, lintheaded conspiracy theories ntowithstanding. As far back as August 21 of 1975, the Congressional Research Service gave to the Special Subcommittee on Investigations of the House Committee on International Relations a tome entitled "Oil fields as Military Objectives: a Feasibility Study." It estimated that seizing the Saudi oil fields would require 60,000 troops and might also require "drafting US civilian workers to supplant foreign counterparts." That same year, Robert W. Tucker wrote in the January issue of COMMENTARY magazine, "Oil: The Issue of AmericanIntervention," which ardently promoted grabbing the Saudi fields, to wit:
"Since it is impossible to intervene everywhere, the feasibility of intervention depends upon whether there is a relatively restricted area which, if effectively controlled, contains a sufficient portion of the present world oil production and proven reserves to provide reasonable assurance that its control may be used to break the present price structure by breaking the core of the cartel politically and economically."
At the same time, political advisor Francis Brooke wrote: (1975, remember)
"We have a new ally in the middle East and one that is secular, modern and pro-free market ... it's time to replace the Saudies with the Iraqis."
There's also a pre-invasion tidbit from the NATIONAL SECURITY STRATEGY OF THE UNITED STATES, which opines the need for an Iraq-based "forward-based forces in the region" as an "essential element in US security strategy given the long-standing American interests in the region."
A Cheney-Libby-Wolfowitz document written in 1992 is a trifle less vague, speaking of the necessity to guarantee "a ccess to vital raw material, primarily Persian Gulf oil."
Now at this time, I seriously doubt there's anyone who can count to twenty-one without taking off his pants who doesn't believe that the invasion of Iraq was about anything other than the oil. Even Iraq's former oil undersecretary and prime adviser of the Bush administration, Fadhil Chalabi stated on National Public Radio's TO THE POINT that the war was "a strategic move on the part of the United States of America and the UK to have a military presence in the Gulf in order to secure (oil) supplies in the future," and that seizing the oil was "a primary objective."
Now, under the Geneva Conventions, grabbing the natural resources of a nation under occupation is illegal. After his invasion of Kuwait, Saddam was forced to pay the pint-sized dictatorship $9 billion in reparations. (Kuwait never paid back Iraq for the oil it stole by illegal slant drilling) However, we are talking about the Bush administration here, so international law is pretty much a moot point. The main problem Bannana Boy, et al are having right now is the Iraqi government's insistence on a firm deadline for getting out of their country, an issue that seems to have now been resolved.
Not to worry - through the miracle of no-competition bids, Exon-Mobil, Cheveron, Shell, B.P. and Total S.A. have all been in the process of signing service contracts with Iraq with the codicil that they have first right of refusal to bid for contracts to manage and produce Iraq's oil fields. Iraq has also opened six of its major oil fields to foreign companies who will have contracts within a year.
The strange thing about the deal is that, although the Iraq National Oil Company will supposedly be in control, the contracts put 75% of the revenue in the hands of the foreign oil companies, leaving only 25% for the nation that ostensibly owns the oil.
This is an incredible reversal of Iraq's previous national policy and is not particularly hard to explain if one views the big picture. Iraq had bourne the brunt of crippling sanctions prior to the invasion and consequently is behind in drilling and production technologies. Iraq needs to get its production capacity up, and foreign companies are the way to accelerate the process. However, since the US invasion created the insurgency, Iraq is a dangerous place to try and carry out business, hence, foreign companies need incentives to tempt them to risk their capital and people.
So, essentially, we have a stiuation where Iraq needs money because of the depredations wrought upon it by the invasion, and the fact that the billions in no-bid contracts to corporate thieves like Halliburton have done virtually nothing of significance (although they have billed the taxpayer for billions) in re-building the country's infrastructure. But they can't earn money unless they increase their oil production, and they can't do that without foreign expertise. (Plus, it should be noted, that the Iraqi government--which is at least as corrupt as the Bush administration--is robbing the country blind.) So the US appears to have Iraq over a barrel, no pun intended. The Iraqis now find themselves in a position where they have to fork over 75% of the revenue from their only significant national resource in order to re-build the devastation caused by the very country that's now pocketing its oil revenue.
As Captain Jack Sparrow would say, "Yo Ho..."