Author Topic: Dear Hands Off Iraqi Oil supporter  (Read 1610 times)


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Dear Hands Off Iraqi Oil supporter
« on: October 01, 2008, 09:12:28 PM »

Dear Hands Off Iraqi Oil supporter,
Today is the 2,000th day of the occupation of Iraq - 2,000 days during which Iraq's future, in the shape of its oil, has been under dispute. On one side have been hundreds of thousands of US and UK occupying troops, and some of the world's most powerful and profitable multinational corporations, looking to take control of the world's second largest oil reserves. On the other, are the Iraqi people, including the oil workers, trying to defend their right to take decisions about their country's primary natural resource.
Incredibly, after 2,000 days of occupation, George Bush and Dick Cheney are about to enter the final 100 days of their administration without getting what many feel they came for. Yet still their efforts to get their hands on Iraq's oil before they are out of power continue - including through a status of forces agreement Bush is determined to sign before he leaves office (see below for more).
In two weeks time the Iraqi government will be meeting in London with 41 international oil companies to discuss doing business together. On the eve of this meeting, on Saturday 11 October, Hands Off Iraqi Oil is staging a demonstration in central London featuring a giant Dick Cheney puppet and visiting two of the companies, BP and Shell, at the forefront of these efforts. We urge you to join us. It's vital that international solidarity movements continue our support in the months ahead - so that we see out the last 100 days of Bush and Cheney with Iraq's future still in tact.
In solidarity,
Hands Off Iraqi Oil





Join us in central London next Saturday for a demonstration to mark the beginning of the last 100 days of the Bush-Cheney administration, and oppose Big Oil's Iraq carve-up meeting two days later (see below). There will be giant puppets, samba and more!

Assemble 12 noon, outside the Shell Centre (York Rd, SE1 7NA), opp. Waterloo train station, next to Waterloo tube. 


Want another reason to come to the 100 Days to Stop Bush and Cheney demo on Saturday 11 October?

How about that two days later, on Monday 13 October, Iraqi Oil Minister Hussein al Shahristani is meeting with Big Oil in London to discuss long-term deals for controlling Iraqi oil.

41 international oil companies including Shell, BP and Exxon, which have pre-qualified for bids on existing producing oil and gas fields will attend.

The meeting is thought to be an interim replacement for a major oil and gas event which had been schedueled to take place in Baghdad in October. This event has now been postponed until December.

The London meeting will mark a crucial step forward in making privatisation of Iraqi oil a long-term reality.

According to Oil Ministry spokesperson Assim Jihad 'The oil ministry will unveil the legal framework and conditions for signing service contracts by qualified oil companies,'

Technical Service Contracts normally do not allow investing companies control over development, production or depletion of reserves.

Yet the service deals currently on the table have been written by the oil majors and US State Department and reportedly include clauses allowing companies to effectively transform the service contracts into Production Sharing Agreements at a later date.

PSAs are reserves-granting contracts which hand control over oil reserves to companies. Iraqi oil experts, trade unions, MPs and civil society have condemned the contracts as a form of economic occupation and a violation of any future potential Iraqi sovereignty.

The situation in Iraq is far from fair or normal for any long-term deals to be negotiated let alone signed.

Over one million people have died since the beginning of the war and occupation.

Millions are dispalced by occupation-stoked sectarian violence. Occupation forces and mercenaries continue to kill and main with impunity, thousands suffer in prison camps, indiscriminate aerial attacks and curfews terrorize thousands.
Profound injustice, disempowerment, poverty and distress dominate the daily lives of most people living in occupied Iraq.

The oil law threatens to escalate and perpetuate the occupation and sectarian violence. Its' passage could re-draw the map of Iraq through allowing regions to control their own oil industries, sign contracts with majors without democratic oversight and economically empower their already occupation supported political and military power structures.

Passage of the oil law and the signing of longterm privatisation deals in Iraq will escalate conflict, entrench the occupation and increase the number of paramilitary and mercenary forces in the beleagured country. The stakes could not be higher for the future of Iraq´s economy, independence, stability and unity. This is why the law is still off the statute books and Iraqis up and down the country continue to oppose it.

Thwarting the economic and geo-political aims of the neo-conservative right which are profiting from the war on Iraq, such as the US oil lobby and its´ man in the whitehouse Dick Cheney should be at the forefront of the anti-war movement.

The Bush-Cheney administration and its' allies in the oil industry and are not giving up, neither are the people of Iraq and neither should we.

It is vital for the anti war movement, social justice movements and the trade union movement to come out into the streets on saturday. We need to show our solidarity with the Iraqi people in resisting the rip off of their resources and the ongoing occupation - military and economic - of Iraq.

Join us on the streets of London on Saturday 11 October in telling Shell, BP and the others, Hands Off Iraqi Oil - End the Occupation Now!



Technical Service Contracts cancelled by Iraqi government – what next?
Briefly, the recent cancellation of the TSAs or TSCs – originally part-written by the US state department and international oil companies - is evidence of the progress the Iraqi and international campaign has made, and how much there is still left to play for.
The oil law is now unlikely to be passed before Bush and Cheney leave office. The Iraqi Oil Minister Hussein Shahristani himself admits there is no prospect for the foreseeable future.
However, the rumours in Baghdad are that some kind of oil agreement will be included in the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA). SOFA remains unratified yet the deal is likely to reflect not only long term US military interests in the region but a long-term economic agenda favourable to allied oil industry interests.
The Chinese development contracts for the al-Ahdab deal near Baghdad as well as the gas capture contract for Shell have not yet been signed, merely their terms agreed by the Iraqi cabinet.
The details of the contracts have not been released to the parliament, nor have they been subject of public scrutiny or debate. However they could be signed soon. Oil experts and civil society leaders in Iraq continue to call for an open debate and transparency and consultation with all Iraqi resource deals.
Some oil experts privately suspect that US officials were involved in the decision to agree the Chinese deal. By Iraqi standards, it is a small field and gives a handy answer to charges that the US administration wanted Iraq's oil for US companies. However these suspicions lack evidence.


So why weren't the Technical Service Contracts not signed?
Essentially, the reason for the collapse of these negotiations (after nearly a year) was that the western oil companies were so greedy. They weren't interested in the contracts in their own right (they're only 1-year service contracts), but in what they could give them beyond. So they were insisting on long-term extension rights, giving them first refusal on subsequent longer contracts - something the Iraqi government resisted. But the companies were too greedy and have now missed out altogether, so will have to wait for the bidding round.
Why has the Iraqi Ministry of Oil taken this position?
That the Oil Ministry was prepared to stand up to the companies is due to the shift in the politics of the oil issue. Eighteen months ago, oil policy in Iraq was consistently reflecting the interests of the western companies and governments - it was due to the popular campaign in Iraq that the Oil Ministry felt able to (and needed to) push a firmer line.
So what happens next?
Other contracts are proceeding. A bidding round is about to be launched for 8 large oilfields (roughly the same ones that would have been covered by these no-bid contracts), and then there is the contract agreed recently with Chinese companies for the al-Ahdab field and with Shell for gas development for the domestic and export market. All of those are long-term contracts (reportedly 20 years).
What kind of contracts are these long term 'development' contracts?
According to the Ministry's claims, they are service contracts. If that is true, they would be comparable at least to contracts in Venezuela and Iran, rather than giving such a large share of ownership, control and revenues as the production sharing contracts the companies wanted; but still giving away more than in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, where foreign companies do not manage a whole field, but are just contracted to install a piece of technology, for example. Russia by comparison is a different case altogether, as it is mostly closed to foreign companies.
How do we know that these contracts won't just be Production Sharing Agreements of privatisation deals by another name?
It is hard to say because so far there has been absolutely no transparency, and no-one knows what the terms of the contracts are. The priority now in Iraq has to be for these terms to be disclosed - the issues are too important to be decided in secret.
How can the companies start work in Iraq when the oil law is still not passed?
The legal position in Iraq is that limited contracts (like in Saudi Arabia) can be signed without an oil law, but extensive ones (like production sharing contracts) can't. These contracts currently being considered are in a grey area in between. To know the answer, we would have to see the precise terms of the contracts, and take legal advice.
HANDS OFF IRAQI OIL is a UK coalition of development, anti-war, environmental and human rights groups opposed to the rip-off of Iraq's oil wealth. For more information see our website at:
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