The Hunt for Oil

Does it surprise you that the first company to sign an oil deal with Iraqi Kurds is Hunt Oil, a company with very close ties to Bush and our country’s intelligence infrastructure?

Texas’ Hunt Oil Co. and Kurdistan’s regional government saidSaturday they’ve signed a production-sharing contract for petroleumexploration in northern Iraq, the first such deal since the Kurdspassed their own oil and gas law in August.A Hunt subsidiary,Hunt Oil Co. of the Kurdistan Region, will begin geological survey andseismic work by the end of 2007 and hopes to drill an exploration wellin 2008, the parties said in a news release.

Nope. It doesn’t surprise me, either. But I am interested in what it portends for long-term plans in Iraq.

First, some background. The Hunt family that owns Hunt Oil (it’s privately held, so we don’t get to scrutinize financial statements) is one of the big money Texas donors behind the Bush family political empire. Ray Hunt, the current chair of the company, is also on the board of Halliburton and the King Ranch, meaning he probably knows to duck when he goes quail hunting with Dick Cheney. Hunt is also on the board of trustees for Shrub’s new presidential library, which has just announced its plans for a wacky democracy institute that will give cover for more imperialism around the world. Oh, and Hunt is also on PFIAB, which means he gets to review a huge amount of intelligence information and then refuse to reveal its classification and declassification activities–not to mention weigh in on whether or not the President’s illegal intelligence activities are illegal or not.

It’s also worth noting that one of Hunt Oil Company’s planes has been spotted taking off and landing at a CIA training facility.

In short, Hunt Oil Company is as wired in as oil companies get–which is saying something.

Now do you see why I find it interesting that Hunt Oil Company is the first company into Kurdistan’s oil fields?

What I don’t know is how to interpret the deal. Perhaps it means nothing more than that Ray Hunt, having reviewed BushCo’s plans and the real underlying intelligence personally, is sufficiently comfortable that Kurdistan will exist as a viable entity, with the oil laws in Iraq remaining as they are, with sufficient security, to conduct oil exploration over the long term (and this is oil exploration, so we are talking a long term indeed). Or perhaps Hunt has signed this deal as a favor to Bush, to push other, publicly held oil companies (which might–out of concern for shareholder value–hesitate before signing such a deal) to invest in Iraqi oil. The NYT article suggests both may be factors in this deal.

Despite Iraq’s vast oil reserves, major international companies havesat on the sidelines, not only for security reasons but because of theabsence of legislation governing the industry and offering protectionfor investments.

A draft oil law for all of Iraq has been bogged down for months, in part because of disputes over who will control the proceeds.

InAugust, however, the Kurdish self-governing region in northern Iraqenacted its own law governing foreign oil investments. The move angeredthe central government in Baghdad, but the Kurds are determined to pushahead with oil exploration.

Most interestingly, this deal suggests those close to Bush believe the US will retain its ties with Kurdistan, as a distinct entity, for some time. There is a growing body of evidence to suggest that recent developments in Iraq reflect a slow, but irreversible, split into three countries. If that happens, Turkey, Iran, and Syria are sure to be mightily involved in attempts to destabilize Kurdistan. But never fear, because Hunt Oil will be there, looking for oil. Among other things, I’m sure.

If I had to guess, I’d suggest this is pretty solid evidence that BushCo has grown comfortable with the idea of Iraq splitting apart.

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  1. phred says:

    Wait a sec, so Congressional staffers with clearances, judicial staffers with clearances, and DoJ employees in the OLC are denied access to all manner of information related to the executive, but Bush can hand pick an â€outside†council of big donors for them to review whatever Bush wants them to, and nobody knows what that may or may not be??? How on earth can such a system be legal and how did it get set up? I clicked the link you have to PFIAB, which didn’t really get into how this little junta came into being… Do you have any links with more info? Thanks EW. And remember, the Iraq War is NOT about oil. Uh huh, right.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Aw jeez, I may need an air sickness bag. Per my standard Sunday morning teevee schedule (except for Sundays like today when there is a Grand Prix live from Europe, Italian GP today, when I get an extra early start, i.e. 4;:30am here) the first important â€Sunday Morning Talking Heads Show†I watch is â€The Sports Reporters†on ESPN. Far superior, in both intellectual content and depth, than the bobblehead political shows on the networks. Unfortunately, it only lasts thirty minutes, so I usually switch over to NBC and catch the last half of Meet the Press for the panel discussion. If I negligently fail to hit one numerical button push on the ole remote, I end up on cspan2 and â€Book TVâ€.

    On occasions when this happens, Book TV is like Forrest Gump’s freaking box of chocolates. You never know what you will get. Usually I am just annoyed that I have to look up from my standard Sunday morning giant plate of eggs with cheese, sausage and biscuits with lots of real butter, that are in a race with Bush to see which will kill me first, in order to find the remote and get the right channel. Occasionally there is something interesting. Last time this occurred, I looked up and it was Marcy Wheeler discussing Anatomy of Deceit at a Drinking Liberally gathering that looked like there were a bunch of fun people drinking quite liberally. Today when I made the mistake, I stumble into Jack Goldsmith puffing up with pride over his new book. What a totally full of himself little fat fuck that guy is. It was hard to tell what impresses Goldsmith more about himself; that he was at the hub of the Bush Administration saving the world from terrorism, or that he is now saving the world from Bush. Legend in his own mind doesn’t even begin to describe this guy; Mary is absolutely right on the money with her disgust for him.

  3. Sally says:

    Ha. If Kurdistan’s neighbors make a move to destabilize the country (and Hunt’s oil prospects), guess whose military will be rushed in?

    By the way, this non-expert has the impression Kurdistan has its act together more than most in that region. Is that just not saying much and/or am I wrong?

  4. Anonymous says:

    I’m not sure this is a signal to what the Bush administration is planning on doing. James Baker’s standard position has always been that any country that exists should not be divided; he was adamantly opposed to the breakup of the USSR, and he committed crimes of diplomacy and statecraft in opposing the break up of Yugoslavia, as if we were going to keep that from happening. Bush obviously still has sway over him, as seen by this. I don’t think there’s anyone around Bush who has a clear and coherent idea of where Iraq is headed, so the idea that this is a move that the upper echelons of BushCo are calculating isn’t one I find convincing.

    However, I do think that a smart guy who’s more of a realist than a utopian–and the neocons are utopians, or at least zealous idealogues–could look at the intelligence that Hunt has seen, and could have spent time actually listening to the Kurds when they say they don’t want to be part of Iraq and watching what they do, like when they outlaw the display of the Iraqi flag in Kurdistan or pass their own oil laws, and conclude that they aren’t going back in to Iraq, and it’s worth the investment to assume that the Turks and Iranians aren’t going to force them back in to Iraq. If you look at it that way–and I do, and I’ve thought for a long time that the Kurds are gone and aren’t going to stay in Iraq–then it makes great sense for Hunt to sign that deal.

  5. phred says:

    Thanks EW. So I take it then that the President can appoint whomever he chooses, with no constraints whatsoever? I am stunned that Eisenhower was so short sighted as to not be aware of the kind of abuse that could occur. Thanks again, great post as usual

  6. ab initio says:

    Excellent insight!!

    With the DC & Texas elites – follow the money. It will always lead you in the right direction.

    The USofA is a direct subsidiary of BIG oil, telecom, pharma, finance.

  7. Anonymous says:

    I think DHin MI is right here. The Turks have been fearful of an independent Kurdistan, and certain that it would happen sooner or later anyway, for a long time. Depending on how much money the Hunts sink in, it is undoubtedly a shrewd investment.

  8. Dismayed says:

    I’m with you EW. I’ve long thought that the three state solution was probably the only reasonable salvage position we have at this point.

    It seems to me that the situation on the ground is more or less organically headed that way. Our arming the Sunnis may simply be a means of keeping the shia from prolonging a war of succession by the shia.

    In the beginning a one state solution, probably was the goal for Bushco – feeling that one puppet state is easier to control. Learning that’s not so three state may be the accepted plan B.

    If we do go three state, anybody want to bet who ends up with all the oil. The sunni, of course. They’ll be more dependent on us, where the shia will have big bro iran and bigger bro russia to look after them.

    Wow, just dawned on me that this is looking more and more like vietnam all the time.

    Anyway, seems pretty obvioust to me that a three state solution may be the cost of peace, but I’m sure oil interest will keep that peace short lived, if it arrives at all. At the very least it gives us a conventional war to deal with, and a side to back, and that is something Bushco knows will be easier to sell.

    Hold on to your hats, new lines in the sand, coming right up.

  9. Mimikatz says:

    How could the Sunnis end up with all the oil when most of it is in the south (Shi’a) or north (Kurdistan)? They are fighting over Mosul, their ownly hope for holding on to some.

    To me it indicates that Hunt at least foresees that Iran will have hegemony over the southern oil fields, or they will be badly damaged in the coming war between the US and Iran, so he’s locking up what is likely to be all that’s really left.

  10. Dismayed says:

    I don’t have a good grasp on where exactly the oil is located. I thought a good portion of it was in arguable areas, while yes concentrated in the south.

    Perhaps Bushco is pushing the Sunni to accept less oil in exchange for their lives, and there is a back door deal with the shia?

    Lord knows the mechanations, but it does seem that a three state solution is coming and that does seem like the most natural solution.

  11. AZ Matt says:

    Between Bush landing in the Anbar Resort & Military Base and this information concerning the Hunt Co., I would say the maps are ready showing where the dividing lines are between the Kurds, the Sunnie and Shias.

  12. sailmaker says:

    Here is a map of the oil. http://www.eia.doe.gov/emeu/se…..bigpic.htm

    Super impose a map of the new, permanent bases and one gets the idea of why we are there. Notice there aren’t bases in al-Anbar, or Karballa provences. http://www.fcnl.org/iraq/bases.htm

    As to why Hunt would make such a gamble as making a deal with the Kurds – gambling runs in the family. The Hunt brothers ran up the silver market in the 1970s in response to inflation http://www.wallstraits.com/mai…..p?id=1298. I kind of think Eisenhower was wrong about them:

    Should any political party attempt to abolish social security, unemployment insurance, and eliminate labor laws and farm programs, you would not hear of that party again in our political history. There is a tiny splinter group, of course, that believes you can do these things. Among them are H. L. Hunt (you possibly know his background), a few other Texas oil millionaires, and an occasional politician or business man from other areas. Their number is negligible and they are stupid.
    Letter to Edgar Newton Eisenhower, his brother (1954-11-08)

    Not stupid – dangerous in my opinion.

  13. phred says:

    Clearly, Eisenhower underestimated the malevolence of the splinter group and their ability to buy the talent they needed to impose their will on the rest of us.

  14. Anonymous says:

    Sailmaker – You are right about Lawrence’s map. There is actually much of T.E.Lawrence’s work that was eerily prescient about Bush’s Iraq exploits. In fact, most of the mistakes and idiotic thoughts of Bush and the neocons were covered in one way or another in the Seven Pillars of Wisdom; especially the winning nature of insurgency like battle in this area of the world. Shame that Bush can’t/doesn’t read; he could have gained much from the Seven Pillars. There is an absolutely fantastic French movie from the 60s (one of the all time great war movies in my estimation) by the name of â€The Battle of Algiers†that also clearly exhibits about every lesson on the region that Bush and the neocons STILL have not learned. For anybody that has not seen this movie, I highly recommend it.

  15. Anonymous says:

    Although, Lawrence was very loose with the truth and exaggerated what was happening in the Middle East to assist his political and personal goals, and David Lloyd-George was often more than willing to accept without question Lawrence’s assessments, because they supported what he wanted. There’s probably 20 or more examples of Lawrence’s exaggerations, lies and fables laid out in David Fromkin’s A Peace to End all Peace: The Fall of the Ottoman Empire and the Creation of the Modern Middle East.

  16. masaccio says:

    Kurdistan, at least, may make sense as a geopolitical entity. Maybe if it happens slowly and safely, the Turks and the Iranians can push their Kurds into the new nation. That would require protections for the Turkmen minority who are a sizable minority who live in a band across the southern side of Kurdish territory. Here’s a map. The area they inhabit includes important oil areas around Kirkuk, and smaller fields near Mosul. The Turks feel kinship towards the Turkmen, and will not want to see them harmed.

  17. Anonymous says:

    DHinMI – You are quite correct about exaggerations by Lawrence; some of which are clearcut, sopme not so much and the result of propaganda by detractors and some created by Lowell Thomas (Of whom Lawrence himself was a fierce critic). There has long been a heated debate on this by historians. Wherever one comes out on the ultimate veracity of Lawrence spectrum, there really is quite a bit useful in the Seven Pillars to today’s situation in Iraq and how it came to be.

  18. phred says:

    sailmaker, thanks for the links to the maps. It certainly appears that the bases are linked with the oil fields, but I’m curious, given the number of bases in the north, why aren’t there more bases in the southeast? From the oil map, it appears there are more (if smaller) super fields in the southeast than the north. Is this simply because of the division between US and British deployments, or is there more to it than that?

  19. Mary says:

    I’ve got a bit of a different take on the Hunt deal. To start with, if Cheney goes hunting with the King Ranch boys (or girls even) he needs to be the one to have read up on when to duck. *g*

    Sailmaker imo has the biggest part of it right. Exxon ThinkTanker Rice and Bush/Cheney have sold a big hunk of song and dance on the oil and gas law. While they focus on the issue of revenue sharing – and that is the appealling issue – the bigger issue with the oil law is what it does on production agreements and development rights and control of the development awards and all of that is completely geared to be nothing more than a huge and long term giveaway to the big oil companies. Hunt is huge for a wholly owned, but they are nowhere near the size of the Texas Double Cross (Exxon).

    And Hunt is also not the first to cut a deal for oil development with the Kurds – they are just the first US entity to do so.

    http://www.globalpolicy.org/se…..ishoil.htm

    So here’s how it works. Iraq has very mapped out reserves – there is almost no exploration risk involved, just drill a well and pump in several areas – to the south and by Kirkuk in particular. Now, countries like Iran and Saudi Arabia, with such plotted reservoirs, pretty much began taking control of development themselves, bc multinational production agreements were pretty egregious (we know the oil is there, we’ll drill the pretty risk free well and recoup 100% of the well costs off the top and then we get a huge production payment off of everything else that ever comes out of the ground)

    So the multinationals have fewer and fewer opportunities these days to impose that kind of production payment in their favor on any new Big Fields, because countries have wised up. Enter the Iraqi oil law, which pretty much reopens the issue of big production payments for the big guys. And while Hunt is a big and well connected player (there are actually all kinds of Hunt companies as the family has different interests and spin offs other than the main entity) the truth of the matter is that it was going to be the really big players to get the big pieces of that pie.

    But a funny thing happened on the way to the oil law being passed. First off, the Kurds and Norway’s DNO (also a company not likely to get a slice the way the oil law was being structured to be a giveaway to the big boys) went ahead and cut a deal for development the end of 2005. Oops.

    In any event, I see the new Hunt deal as being a big gamble and also a big EffU to Rice and the megawatt players. I’m thinking this means that Hunt thinks the oil law at this juncture either won’t get passed, or will be forced to grandfather in existing deals even if it were passed. So rather than sit back, wait for the law to be passed and cut out the smaller players, or wait while no law is passed but companies like DNO go forward with deals and eventually the big players come in and squeeze out the little guys for things that haven’t been taken, or wait while an entity gets put in place that will work with Iran in the South and self-develop, etc. the Hunt family is once again gambling.

    Exxon and others are more constrained bc of what they would have to put in their corporate reports and shareholder issues if they went in and started trying to cut deals with no oil law, plus they want the biggest deal they can get and don’t want to do piecemeal carveouts with lower production payments. Big ships turn slowly. IMO, Hunt is betting that Exxon’s girl Rice is a washout, Bush is an inept also ran, and they can outmaneuver the politicians and the multinationals.

    If you go back through the OPEC history, you’ll see how the independents (especially in Libya) were what really began to give OPEC its power, back when the Seven Sisters rode herd on things. Big oil has a long memory and they are not favorably disposed to the indys.

    Right now there are a lot of different considerations, but my primary reaction to the news is that Hunt is willing to begin undercutting the big boys and cut their own deals with the Kurds is â€good for them.â€

    IMO, it’s not something that will make Bush Cheney all that happy, as the Sisters can be real witches when their plans are thwarted by bumbling political incompetents.

    All jmo and spec, fwiw.

  20. casual observer says:

    So the Kurdish profits will be distributed nationwide, at least as long as the nation exists (and there are any actual profits). Interesting.

    It strikes me that this deal is definately in the Kurd’s interest. And I wonder if this is why (among other reasons) the Kurds had retained Barbour’s lobbying firm in washington.

    All of these are side issues. The real problem, I believe, is that BMAZ will have increasing difficulties with his remote TV control, on account of all the butter (real) and sausage grease caked thereon. This is a real, growing threat all across america. And I don’t know what to do about it.

  21. Neil says:

    We need oil. What’s the fuss?
    Posted by: Jodi | September 09, 2007 at 14:26

    Are you sure WMD and not oil was the reason we took out Saddam? That Bush and Cheney didn’t know there were no WMD and no smoking gun to be found in Iraq?

    Imagine members of your family dying in war, not a war against Al Queda or against terrorists or even against terrorist-enabling states, but dying in a war for our oil, as opposed to a war for our freedom or even their freedom.

    Where should we send our children to war next, to fight for someone else’s freedom oil?

    There are thousands of American families that believe Bush and Cheney lied about our reasons for going to war against Iraq and yet you are not one of them. Yea, we need oil. What’s the fuss?

  22. sailmaker says:

    I don’t know why there are not more bases in the south east – there are at least 2 bases in Kuwait, which may cover the area.

    In 2004 I saw a USAID advertisement for bids for 10 new bases in Iraq, offering a billion a pop. Things have changed since 2004. There are at least 4 bases missing from the map I gave you, which may never have gotten built, or maybe they are stealth/covert bases.

    Anyway, the idea that bases can really provide protection for oil fields, pipelines, and refineries does not seem realistic to me because anyone with a match or a RPG could sabotage the equipment. In the Iran/Iraq war the oil fields were supposedly ’off the table’. A way to take the oil fields off the table this time, in my opinion, would be to cut every Iraqi in on the oil take. That would cut down on the Hunts and the other oil companies’ take, so that isn’t going to happen, but it is a nice idea.

  23. phred says:

    Thanks DHinMI — I need to have more faith in Wikipedia, I thought of looking, but then figured it would just tell me about the group of women’s colleges or the Pleiades. Never heard it used in reference to oil before…

    And sailmaker, thanks for your reply, too. I wouldn’t discount the bases-protecting-oil too readily, but it was surprising that there weren’t more bases in the southeast. Perhaps that has been rectified by now as you suggest…

  24. Anonymous says:

    Casual Observer – Jeez, my wife and doctor (best friend) have already reduced me (ok, I admit fairly willingly) to fruit and cereal for breakfast six days a week and no junk and/or fast food for lunch pretty much all the time. Now you want to take my one allowed weekly sin in the form of a good old fashioned Southern breakfast like my grandmother used to make too? Should I presume that the joyless culinary police will be coming for my other occasional permitted vice of Mexican food and margaritas as well? Heh heh.

  25. Anonymous says:

    Phred – A bit rickety, but hey, a lot better than the start to a lot of their seasons lately. I’ll take it on behalf of the Desert Cheesers. Go Pack!

  26. casual observer says:

    bmaz,

    yes, I think your diet should be severely curtailed. grits with no bacon fat or butter. low-sodium bread. fake eggs. rolled oats with skim milk. Hah!

    (Just don’t ask to see my channel-changer…Damn thing is so coated in lard that I can’t hardly hold it anymore…)

  27. Mary says:

    Sailmaker, the maps were great visual aids. You won’t be seeing any of the candidates for President in 2008 (well, maybe Edwards, but in general not) asking why it is that, if our concern with leaving troops is preventing al-Qaeda from taking over, no operational base and supply logistics to support it have been proposed for the Sunni triangle.

    casual – the distribution concept, for the Shia south as well as Kurdistan, was to treat the oil income as nationally centralized no matter where it was produced and that this would be an olive branch for the Sunnis, who have no major oil producing fields in their area of control and increasingly their limited area of habitation (the Sunni triangle). Unfortunately – everyone talks the distribution concept to death without ever getting around to the development aspects.

    phred – if you are interested in some very readable history, there was a good book out in the 70s (or maybe early 80s?) called the Seven Sisters and a goodly portion of it is actually online now. You will see how there was very serious talk by the majors of getting the US to invade the oilfields back in the day – when the companies owning those fields began to exercise autonomy and even divergence from the oil policies of the majors who thought that they had corporate control of the nationally owned oilfields.

    There was a really good Financial Times article this spring:
    http://www.ft.com/cms/s/2/471a…..10621.html
    that discusses the â€new 7†and highlights in part some of what generates my opinion.

    The problem for the old sisters, as described in that article, is that they are of a size they need ’huge’ deals, not just big or small but good deals. And there are no new big finds that seem available, at least in areas where they have the ability to get the kind of control they want.

    This time international oil companies are finding no new fields to escape to. In fact, they have discovered no¬where capable of pumping more than 1m b/d since 2000, when Kazakhstan’s Kashagan field became the biggest find in 30 years.

    And more disturbingly for them, countries are dispensing with them and setting up nationalized oil companies to not only develop those countries domestic resources, but to also Joint Venture with other countries nationalized companies or to go into third world areas. So the new 7 is looking very different than the old 7:

    This time international oil companies are finding no new fields to escape to. In fact, they have discovered no¬where capable of pumping more than 1m b/d since 2000, when Kazakhstan’s Kashagan field became the biggest find in 30 years.

    The article describes this as creating an â€existential crisis†for the old companies and I don’t think that is an overstatement. It’s why looking at the price of oil or not isn’t really that much of a factor in what a company like Exxon would have wanted from Iraq. It would be the ability to get a stake in a huge oil field – as they would from a new field find (and those just aren’t happening) except the areas are already known and mapped and the â€costs†of obtaining would be paid by basically be paid the American people and military.

    The new emerging sisters are not going to be much help to the old sisters:

    Overwhelmingly state-owned, they control almost one-third of the world’s oil and gas production and more than one-third of its total oil and gas reserves. In contrast, the old seven sisters – which shrank to four in the industry consolidation of the 1990s – produce about 10 per cent of the world’s oil and gas and hold just 3 per cent of reserves.

    And production is shifting from the industrialized world to developing nations:

    The International Energy Agency, the developed world’s sectoral watchdog, calculates that 90 per cent of new supplies will come from developing countries in the next 40 years. That marks a big shift from the past 30 years, when 40 per cent of new production came from industrialised nations, most of it controlled by listed western energy groups, noted a report published last week by Rice University’s James A. Baker III Institute of Public Policy.

    Under those models – not many new fields to be found to stay huge and tremendously wealthy; the new 7 of nationalized companies competing directly with the megacorps in the developing world; and old game plans of oil field invasions still kicking around from the 70s, –

    a gameplan of militarily undoing the nationalization trend by American invasion and occupation, with imposition of laws to denationalize oil developement and guarantee big production shares for the megacorps – is not a bad deal if you can get it. With a Cheney/Bush, they stood a chance at getting it. There are very few other ways they will be able to get that kind of prop to their power and market share.

    That’s not to say that the invasion was all about the oil, but I think it played a key role. Iraq wasn’t the most legitimate or sensible target for US muscle flexing it we were really intending to have a GWOT. It was, however, a weak and marginalized country with big reserves and where the nationalization trend could begin to be undone. Keep in mind that, but for the horrible disasters in Iraq, there seemed to be a lot of targeting of Venezuela too and you can just see the Cheney’s wanting to undo nationalization there too if they could.

    So fwiw, even though the Hunts are the Hunts, if they poke a sharp stick into the megamonsters, I’m fine with that.

  28. phred says:

    WooHoo! Go Pack! Thanks bmaz! Since the food police are cracking down, I’ll have a couple extra cheese curds on your behalf — I picked some up when I was back in WI last month, and boy oh boy are they tasty The offense is pretty shaky all right, but not a thing wrong with our defense or special teams. And since it is defense that wins championships, well, you know where I’m goin’ with this… Pack to the Super Bowl! Yep, must be September

  29. casual observer says:

    Mary,

    Yes, but istn’t the difference here that Bagdad was bypassed in the process–that they were supposed to be the ones negotiating the contracts, rather than the regional govts.

    Also, the breakdown isn’t given in the article. I’d like to know what that is, if anyone knows it.

  30. phred says:

    Mary, thanks for the additional info. I noticed the book mentioned in the link from DHinMI. I’ll definitely look it up. I’m curious about your comment that you didn’t think the invasion was all about the oil — what else do you attribute it to? I have felt from the beginning that it was all about the oil, within the context of the neocon desire to destabilize a government in an effort to prove that they are right about the fabulousnous of an unfettered free market. Everything else has seemed to me to be marketing.

  31. spoonful says:

    Hunt Oil is also suspected of being behind U.S. foreign policy towards Somalia. They are pumping 200, 000 barrels a day from Yemen which sits at the oil transit chokepoint of Bab el-Mandap, the narrow point controlling oil flow connecting the Red Sea with the Indian Ocean. Yemen and Somalia are two flanks of the same geological configuration, which hold large potential petroleum deposits, as well as being the flanks of the oil chokepoint from the Red Sea. See http://www.onlinejournal.com/a….._822.shtml

  32. spoonful says:

    Hunt Oil is also suspected of being behind U.S. foreign policy towards Somalia. They are pumping 200, 000 barrels a day from Yemen which sits at the oil transit chokepoint of Bab el-Mandap, the narrow point controlling oil flow connecting the Red Sea with the Indian Ocean. Yemen and Somalia are two flanks of the same geological configuration, which hold large potential petroleum deposits, as well as being the flanks of the oil chokepoint from the Red Sea. See http://www.onlinejournal.com/a….._822.shtml

  33. Neil says:

    OT – CSPAN FROM CAPITOL HILL – Iraq War Report

    Starting Monday, follow LIVE coverage on C-SPAN3, C-SPAN Radio, & C-SPAN.org of Gen. David Petraeus & Amb. Ryan Crocker delivering their recommendations on the situation in Iraq. They testify before several congressional cmtes.

    Mon., 12:30pm: Joint Hearing
    Tues., 9:30am: Senate For. Rel.
    Tues., 2pm: Senate Armed Serv.

    http://www.c-span.org

  34. Mary says:

    Casual – I’m not sure I know what you are asking.

    Yes, but istn’t the difference here that Bagdad was bypassed in the process–that they were supposed to be the ones negotiating the contracts, rather than the regional govts.

    I’m not sure what you mean about the â€difference here†but if the oil law in the form that Rice wants were passed, there would be a centralized office in the gov that would grant development rights and put production agreements into place. That law has not been passed. Beginning back at the end of 2005, when the law had already been written and there had been a long effort to get the Iraqis to agree to it, the Kurds went ahead and began disregarding it, with their deal with the Norwegian company being the first. Now they have cut a deal with Hunt. Both of those deals were while there has been no â€Iraqi oil law †actually passed and in place. However, the majors have been sitting and waiting for that to be passed, since they are pretty much the intended recipients of development licenses if it is ever put in place.

    So now a US independent has snuck in and started dealing with the Kurds – which may start to open the door to more of a free for all. It is pretty much a gamble that hat either no law will be passed, or that if it is passed, existing deals will have to be honored so get in while the getting is good.

    Also, the breakdown isn’t given in the article. I’d like to know what that is, if anyone knows it.

    Breakdown of what?

  35. Mary says:

    phred – I don’t know if they have it up legally or not, but this link has a chunk of Samspon’s book online to give you a flavor.

    http://journeytoforever.org/bi…..rsToC.html

    I think that there were a lot of reasons for going into Iraq and not everyone who was pivotal to the decision had the same reason. IMO, it was a pretty complex intersection of wants, needs, thoughts, opinions and -most importantly – egos. I do think for someone like Cheney that a grand US plan to dominate a large oil field via invasion and parcel out concessions to those who were on his good side, with some war profiteering for other pals on the way there, could have been motivational. But W wanted a wartime legacy – wanted to show up his father, many neocons truly seemed to believe this concept of making Israel safer by invading and brutally occupying surrounding countries, a chunk of the military had toys and well trained troops and wanted to do something with them and in particular wanted to respond to 9/11 with those troops and toys and didn’t have the kind of world view or moral base that gave a rats ass whether or not the people, including many civilians and children, that they subjected to â€shock and awe†had anything to do with 9/11 or not. It was just a great pump for the troops (go get â€them†and â€they†attacked us so go show them) and they added that â€Arab Mind†approach to demonize and belittle the civilians and make them acceptable objects for further venting and it gave them an outlet. Still others in the military and political apparatus I think responded to that central element that recognized that the best way to keep getting $$ and power in a democracy is to be at war and use the will and coffers and soldiers of the nation to facilitate a wealth transfer from normal Americans and into the military as an institution and the supporting corporate behemoths like the Lockheeds, Boeings, etc. Still others – – – lots of reaons IMO. All like rivulets feeding into the huge, morally bereft, mentally vacant, and emotionally facile and occupationally irresponsible sinkhole that was and is GWBush. It’s just that some of the rivulet were bigger than others, and some had feeders of the well meaning. For example, military minds who really thought that there might be a military need to protect and oilfield asset or people who really have been concerned with the threats facing Israel etc.

    all fwiw – gotta go do real work.

  36. casual observer says:

    Mary, by breakdown, I was noting (poorly) that the article doesn’t disclose how oil revenues will be distributed–how much to region, how much to central govt., how much to the Hunt subsidiary, etc.

    on the other point, I was aware of the revenue-sharing in the unpassed hydrocarbon law, but that law is not passed, nor apparently was the central govt. involved in the dealings with Hunt. So it was unclear to me why the Kurds would ness. feel required to follow the formula in the draft fed. law.

    Speaking of the oil law–That draft, as I understand it, is fatally flawed as it gives private oil companies effective ownership of to large a portion of Iraq’s oil reserves. Hard to see how any Iraqi who knew the score would pass it as it currently stands.

  37. pow wow says:

    I sincerely hope that your take on this move is right, Mary – but I fear that the effective division of Iraq has long been the hidden agenda of the corporate raiders running our Executive Branch and national treasury into the ground (and that of many of their allies in Congress) – for purposes of both privatizing the oil under Western control, and to placate Israeli authoritarians and their powerful American Lobbies by enforcing a very weak, decentralized central government in Iraq. I have to wonder if the Hunt Oil move doesn’t help move that hidden agenda briskly along (great catch, EW). Joe Biden, of course, is helpfully playing right into their hands by spreading the myth that most Iraqis would prefer, or benefit from, being forcibly relocated into zones of some sort of ethnic/religious ’purity’ for their own â€safety†(and never mind what their own will in this matter may be).

    When I see information from Iraqi sources (many provided to us thanks to Siun at FDL) rather than American opinions about Iraq, it seems absolutely clear to me that any â€splitting into three†that is done to Iraq will have to be forced, and imposed, upon that nation by outsiders (that is, us) if it is to happen, and will most definitely not be â€organically†or willingly fostered by the Iraqi people themselves. But because our government’s efforts to force such a division (without being seen to do so) – through passage of that deceptive hydrocarbon law, by manipulating the puppet Iraqi cabinet (filled with former exiles), and by tolerating obscene levels of violent civil disorder under our occupation for years with no meaningful change in tactics – are all no longer looking to be as viable as they once did, the private sector may now be starting to help to achieve that taxpayer-debt-financed imperialist agenda.

    Hunt Oil may be doing what the oil law promoters have so far failed to do – forcing the issue, before those Iraqis in favor of a strong national government [apparently a majority of the population, in addition to a â€nationalist†majority of the Iraqi parliament, along with the representatives of two Iraqi Cabinet Vice Presidents (one Sunni, one Shi’ite) who secretly met in Finland last weekend] can gain enough leverage under the bootheel of the American occupation to prevent such assaults on the oil wealth of the (future, sovereign) nation of Iraq. But here’s hoping that instead Hunt is simply ’off the reservation’ on this matter for its own private reasons.

    Though not himself an Iraqi, the Norwegian Iraq scholar Reinar Visser tellingly says [thanks to Siun & FDL for unearthing this; funny how these sorts of experts never get asked to testify to our Congress…]:

    A few days ago, an angry voice could be heard on television: “Like heck we can’t tell the Iraqis what to do.†This was Joseph Biden, the Democratic senator! Yes, it is probably true that, if the United States seriously wishes to enforce a division of Iraq – by circumventing the Iraqi constitution – it has the military capability to do so. But it would be a tragic outcome of the supposed democratization of Iraq if Washington should choose to exit by neo-imperialistically imposing a particular state structure on the country. It would alienate huge sections of the Iraqi population. It would be a gross provocation to most of Iraq’s neighbors, who view a tripartite federation as a particularly brittle state structure and a powder keg in terms of potential regional instability. And it would be the ultimate gift to al-Qaida – who would finally get the manifest evidence they have been craving in order to back up their conspiracy theory of the US as a pro-Zionist force bent on subdividing the Middle East into weak and sectarian statelets. Senator Biden would do well to consider the long-term damage to American interests that would follow from such reactions before he annexes Basra to the Middle Euphrates, merges Diyala and Kut, and rips the heart out of Mosul.

    http://www.firedoglake.com/200…..rious-set/

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/…..61116.html

    Visser’s website: http://www.historiae.org/

    The news about the recent meeting in Finland is linked in this diary:

    http://www.dailykos.com/storyo…..73216/4829

    In the context of that hopeful meeting, I think this lengthy (and very rare) Western report from July of an interview of Sunni insurgent groups by Guardian reporter Seuman Milne is not only very revealing in the effort to understand what’s driving those actually personally instigating at least a good portion of the ongoing violence in Iraq, but is also a ’purchase point’ for further peace talks for those interested in a united, self-governing Iraq (if any, in our Congress):

    â€Our people have come to hate al-Qaida, which gives the impression to the outside world that the resistance in Iraq are terrorists. Suicide bombing is not the best way to fight because it kills innocent civilians. We are against indiscriminate killing – fighting should be concentrated only on the enemy. They [al-Qaida] believe that all Shia are kuffar [unbelievers] – and most of the Sunnis as well.†They estimate that al-Qaida now carries out between a fifth and a third of all attacks in Iraq.

    But they say that it is necessary for the Sunni-based groups to ally with the Shia. â€Even though that is not easy,†says Zubeidy. â€A great gap has opened up between Sunni and Shia under the occupation and al-Qaida has contributed to that – as have the US and Iran. Most of al-Qaida’s members are Iraqis but its leaders are mostly foreigners. The Americans magnify their role, even though they are responsible for a minority of resistance operations – remember that the Americans brought al-Qaida to Iraq.â€

    Sectarian division has been inflamed, Omary adds, as part of the â€old British imperial tactic of divide and ruleâ€.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/g2/s…..93,00.html

    I believe some of the sentiments highlighted in that interview may well be those that have contributed to the ’soaring success’ in al-Anbar Province now being touted as an American achievement by the White House.

    This further information Visser provides about the pre-1880 reality of Iraq provides the historical context missing from so many glib, modern assumptions about a region that most Americans (and their â€representativesâ€) are wholly ignorant about:

    “Despite arguments by those in favor of partition, “Iraq has no tradition of being compartmentalized into neat, sectarian entities,†except for a relatively brief period between 1880 and World War I.

    “For long periods before the 1880s, the Ottoman Empire governed these lands as one,†he said. “It is untrue that the three Ottoman provinces that became Iraq in 1921 were characterized by clear sectarian identities.â€

    http://www.nytimes.com/2007/08…..wanted=all

    A pretty good report concerning disputes about the (real intentions of the) Iraqi oil law finally made it into the Washington Post last week, but I noticed there wasn’t a peep in the article about the major oil conference then concluding in Dubai – where Iraqi and Big Oil representatives were no doubt playing the game for all they’re worth:

    http://observer.guardian.co.uk…..42,00.html

    P.S. Mary @ 17:36 – I think that summary of yours about the various motivations driving those who promoted our invasion of Iraq pretty much says it all… And almost certainly none of those â€justifications†would have been allowed to hold sway over our nation, if our Legislative Branch of government had been fulfilling even most of its Constitutional mandate, rather than sabotaging its own powers with a vengeance, as it continues to do to this day…

  38. Mary says:

    Casual – I haven’t seen any english language drafts of the Kurdish law that was passed last month, but as I understand the article, the kurdish law is merely consistent with the language in the Iraqi Constitution which provides that oil will be a national asset and proceeds subject to national distribution. I don’t know that or necessarily believe that the kurdish law tracks language in the proposed oil law on allocation, but it might. If it did, that would be an â€on paper†way of saying that the Bush coverup/selling point – distribution to the non-oil rich areas like the Sunni triangle – is not the holdup to the law.

    OTOH, the reality of the matter is that by the time there is production and revenue, if political matters are not resolved, there is not likely to be any actual distributions from the Kurds to a centralized government. They will probably for appearances intially book an escrow (like a suspense account) but do mostly what they please, as they please. Hunt will be quasi insulated bc their agreement will be with the regional gov and they won’t have any responsiblity for governmental distributions. IMO, fwiw.

    When they talk about â€effective ownership†to the majors, they are talking about excessive production payments and also the abilities to control the development and flow.

    pow wow – on the (Biden backed) split Iraq solution, the Turkish fallout would be very bad and the Iranian empowerment would be a very real issue. What oil obsessed America doesn’t talk about much is water. If the Iraqi Kurds split off, there would be huge uproar and dissent with Turkish and Iranian Kurds. The old Kurdistan incorporates some of both, but in particular a very large and vital chunk of Turkey. That chunk includes the flow-ways and tie in of the Tigris-Euphrates. Turkey would never let that go for a plethora of reasons. Turkey is a NATO ally. Turkey has been a reliably secular govt (until some of the blowback from the Bush polices took root there as well) and we would be in a world of hurt if the Kurds and Turks got openly aggressive with each other- and if there is a separate Kurdish state it is much more likely to happen.

    There are no good answers and right now, everyone in Iraq is concerned with what the US has shown as the way to reconciliation – a â€Haditha style†way of settling differences that doesn’t really allow for much long range planning. And for the billions of Iraqs own money that Bush has â€lost†and the hundreds of billions of US money, there is nothing to show. Except millions of refugees who are getting no help from the US and who are having to turn to one of Bush’s Satans – Syria. And because Bush won’t talk to Syria, we do nothing for those millions that Bush created.

    I’m sure they won’t cross the boyking’s mind while he is out giving speeches to replinish his coffers and I’m sure they won’t be a footnote in the Petraeus/Congressional exchange.

    Bush, Syria and the Iraqi refugees – that’s the lesson in political solutions that we teach.

  39. MarkH says:

    I guess a smart person would bet on the peoples living in the area labeled Iraq will decide their own fate, rather than having it forced on them. If the Kurds want to live in their own region and govern themselves, then it would take a lot to overcome that. I see no reason we should stop them — after all, do we not support self-rule?

    A utopian is fantasizing and folks of that kind rarely bring about anything substantial or lasting. Instead, they can bring about an accidental chaos and destruction.

    It’s wise to watch natural developments and not intercede when things are going well. Perhaps, stand nearby and protect, but not interfere or harm.

  40. Jodi says:

    Neil,

    look! It is business as usual.

    We didn’t need a war to get oil. The war was not for oil. But oil is never forgotten. It can’t be. America grows more and more dependent on it every day. Every day, every (well 99+%) of Americans ask for more oil.

    The sun rises every day. The rooster crows. The war didn’t start it, or stop it. Oil is the same way.

  41. larue says:

    There is some seriously complicated, and well informed, information above.

    A joy to read it all.

    Why can’t this simply be a matter of BushCo writing off the south to Iran (we just can’t invade them, we’ll be slaughtered).

    And the Hunt Brothers are BushCo’s lead into monopolizing Kurdish oil in the north, Sunni’s lose so sorry, in exchange for a FALSE PROMISE to the Kurds, that they will have USA help for independence.

    Splitting Iraq serves ALL the purposes of the BushCo Imperialism efforts for oil and profits. Give away the south for an easier and more concentrated focus in the north. ’Splains why we don’t HAVE bases in the south, beyond evac issues we are GOING to be facing sooner or later (Gilley). Sorry, my patois is SO socialist.

    The dem’s are NOT railing for antiwar, much less getting out of the ME and all that oil. So they are imperialist as well as they are as easily bought by AIPAC and US based PAC’s as the Pub’s are.

    But let’s call Iraq a butchered ploy for what it is, and Northern Kurd Oil the only prize left on the shelf.

    Mary’s insights are INCREDIBLE, but, they don’t take into account the facist domestic policies and controls put into place by this BoyChimp/Shooter Cabal and their minions . . . Mary, I just can’t accept that we got here from Newt in ’84 by a series of clusterphucks and general misdeeds that were uncoordinated . . . I just can’t.

    Given the destruction of our republic since ’84, and the logical following of Nixon’s Henches (NeoCons/Cheney’s) to rise again, it seems there is MUCH more going on in terms of consolidating power and wealth to the 1% than a general series of vaguely unconnected or semi-connected peculiarities.

    And my not so humble opinion says PNAC is the source of it all, and has been, and it’s real obvious.

    Now, have they altered their agenda’s, practices, and processes based on reality, resistance and such to their DESIRED plans?

    OH YEAH!!! But, the jig is up and it’s just not working well, and somehow, the dem’s are part of it as much as the Pub’s and Neocon’s who LEAD the PNAC are . . . all the wealth buys into PNAC . . . all that 1%.

    And STILL they (MIC/BigBiz/Oil/1%) are winning big. And THAT’S the horror. THAT’S the unleashing of regime change, global interference, slaughter of civilian populations, and general evil our Manifest Destiny has promulagated for the better part of two centuries this country has existed.

    It’s NOT an isolated series of events. It’s deliberate, it’s calculated, and it ebbs and flows only between a FEW competing party’s among USA rulers and at the international level . . but the outcomes and the carnage are the same.

    Right now? Only Russia and China keep us from nuking Iran . . . and I pray that continues, but Sept 14th comes soon.

    And the dem’s will bring no relief, come ’08 elections. And we have missing nukes somewhere near Barksdale, LA, perhaps? Or was THAT a staged non-ops psy wise that never happend to rattle BuschKing’s saber at Putin?

    Great thread, great info, thanks SO much to those who do the sourcing I get to use to formulate MY thoughts, and those links I get to share with so many others . . . best to us all as it all plays out.

  42. larue says:

    And I apologize for omitting . . . . many, many thanks to Mz. Wheeler herself, for all she does in sourcing, researching, and prompting us all to think, look, read and well . . . WORRY!!!

    Heroes emerge during bad times . . . role models, those who DO . . . Mz. Wheeler’s on MY list as one of those.

    Kahplah!

  43. GFY jodi says:

    We need oil.

    What’s the fuss?

    Posted by: Jodi | September 09, 2007 at 14:26

    GFY jodi you miserable ann-coulter wannabe POS.

    god, you are such a miserable POS i can barely stand it.

    i hope you CHOKE on that Oil one day.

  44. casual observer says:

    Mary,

    Oy. I didn’t think an oil law had passed. I thought that something had been agreed to by the cabinet (or some surviving subset of the cabinet), but that the legislative branch had not yet passed anything.

  45. Mary says:

    casual – the article indicates that the Kurds passed their own regional law they’d come up with as a work around for the failure to get national version they could support:

    and the Kurds’ new petroleum law, issued by the Kurdistan National Assembly early last month

    It was news to me that they had passed that.

  46. phred says:

    Mary, thanks so much for sharing your analysis of the motivation for the invasion. I agree with it up to a point, but I would choose a different analogy, an arch rather than a river. I remain convinced that had it not been for the prospect of securing American access to Iraqi oil, we would not have invaded. Oil was the keystone in the arch of all the other reasons supporting the invasion. I agree with all of the other reasons you note, and concur there are more that could be added, but oil was the key.

    To be clear, while there are absolutely economic benefits to Cheney and his chums in our burgeoning noble class, I think there was a perfectly reasonable argument made that our country runs on oil, our reserves are insufficient, so we better make damn sure that we lock up what we can before China and India squeeze us out. All of this is predicated on the assumption that our technology will continue to run on oil well into the future. It is a horrifically myopic point of view. Even without the enivironmental implications of continuing to burn through the world’s reserves of oil (which are huge), the fact is it is a limited resource. It will run out. And while people can argue when that will occur, the fact remains that there will be an end. The sane and rational thing to do would be to put all of our national effort towards developing alternate technologies now while oil remains plentiful and cheap. But the Wall Street driven quarterly â€what have you done for me lately†pressure on corporate America and our government appears to have quite effectively shut down our ability to do any meaningful long range planning in this country. So we limp along from quarter to quarter preserving the status quo as best we can with insufficient attention to how we will get from where we are to where we must go to survive.

    Cheney, the ultimate CEO government official, lives and breathes the quarterly driven air of Wall Street. In his world view, we had to lock up the oil. The fact that that goal meshes nicely with the neocon world view, and the myriad desires of others (including the Boy King’s Oedipal issues) does not change my opinion that oil was the key to it all. Had there been oil in Afghanistan, we would not have lost our focus there.

  47. Anonymous says:

    remember Mesa Oil Co.?

    T-Boone Pickens?

    The Bush family of carpetbaggers has old Texas ties galore.

    The Hunt Family Fortunes are historically histrionic.

    WHEN THEY COULDN’T CORNER THE MARKET ON SILVER, THEY MUST HAVE DECIDED TO GET INTO THE OIL BUSINESS!!!

    At least in that market, they had some political power in their pocket.

  48. Anonymous says:

    â€Cheney, the ultimate CEO government official, lives and breathes the quarterly driven air of Wall Street.â€

    shorter version…â€no-bid book cookersâ€

    As for â€The sun rises every day. The rooster crows. The war didn’t start it, or stop it. Oil is the same way.†…look into my eyes, you are growing sleepy, your eyelids are getting heavy…

    How long and how often can you be wrong, before you either get embarassed, grow humble, or change your brainwashing regime. One problem all these dittoheads have is that they all continue to believe â€the lie†even in the face of sheer truth to the contrary.

    Intractability is born of ignorance.

  49. Anonymous says:

    Oh, by the way, Jodi, we both know they actually DID find a WMD in Iraq!!!!

    It’s called OIL!

    Just count the dead…

  50. Neil says:

    The war was not for oil.
    Posted by: Jodi | September 09, 2007 at 23:10

    No, you’re sure? Then for what? 9/11? Aluminum tubes? Niger Uranium? A Mushroom cloud being the smoking gun? Mohammed Atta meeting Iranian diplomats in Prague?

    Seriously. You’re sure â€The war was not for oil†so you must know why.

    Why the war in Iraq?

  51. phred says:

    Sailmaker — Thanks, although it is not clear to me whether the new base will be in the southeastern part of the country or whether it will be due east of Baghdad. Sounds like the new base has more to do with rationalizing the desire to bomb Iran than keeping tabs on the super oil fields in the southeast.

  52. Neil says:

    Tomorrow is the six year anniversary of 9/11/01. What if Bush had read the PDB and remembered what Richard Clark has to say about Osama Bin Laden, then activated every resource at his disposal to protect US citizens from an attack?

    If the 9/11 attack had been subverted,
    would Bush and Cheney still have invaded Iraq?

    Former U.S. Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill think so:

    [Former Wall Street Journal reporter Ron] Suskind said O’Neill and other White House insiders gave him documents showing that in early 2001 the administration was already considering the use of force to oust Saddam, as well as planning for the aftermath.

    â€There are memos,†Suskind told the network. â€One of them marked ’secret’ says ’Plan for Post-Saddam Iraq.’â€

    Suskind cited a Pentagon document titled â€Foreign Suitors For Iraqi Oilfield Contracts,†which, he said, outlines areas of oil exploration. â€It talks about contractors around the world from … 30, 40 countries and which ones have what intentions on oil in Iraq.â€

    In the book, O’Neill is quoted as saying he was surprised that no one in a National Security Council meeting asked why Iraq should be invaded.

    â€It was all about finding a way to do it. That was the tone of it. The president saying ’Go find me a way to do this,’†O’Neill said.

    […]

    O’Neill also said in the book that President Bush â€was like a blind man in a roomful of deaf people†during Cabinet meetings.

    One-on-one meetings were no different, O’Neill told the network.

    link

    Not for oil, love or money.

    Business as usual? No way.

  53. MarkH says:

    We have a major imbalance problem in America.

    Corporations have much more power than they should relative to the public.

    Government has much more power than it should relative to the public.

    The Military-Industrial-Congressional Complex has too much power relative to the public.

    The electronic voting machines give Republicans too much power.

    The Bush mafia have far too much power relative to other interests.

    We must readjust to get to a more balanced sharing of power with broader interests being involved.

    This is one reason I think a populist candidate for president is not only likely to arise (as has Edwards and to some extent Ron Paul), but is very likely to win. He should be greeted by everyone as a sign we’re on the road back to Democracy as it should be.

    One would have to expect that an administration which listens to more voices will produce a vastly different foreign policy in Iraq and elsewhere.