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Iraq’s new oil law: who benefits?

Passing this new oil law [1] is one of the few things the Iraqi government has accomplished that I’ve heard about. There’s much talk about how this will divide up oil revenues fairly among the different provinces, including the unoiled ones.

Buried in the small print is: “The draft law also lays out method for international companies to invest in Iraq’s oil industry, reports say.” (BBC [1])

Could we have some details on that, please?

The small print in the Iraq Study Group report mentioned what a good idea it would be to privatize the Iraqi oil industry, and allow foreign companies to take home twice the already large industry-standard share of their profits. (Earlier post [2] on that.) To put it less politely, having reduced Iraq to a condition of helplessness, the US demands money the way people generally do when they’re at the right end of the gun.

So what “methods” of foreign “investment” are laid out in this draft law? Is it the ISG method? If so, sharing oil revenues across provinces is not the real story. The real story is whether Exxon has run off with the pot roast while the Iraqis get to divvy up the crumbs.

Hopefully, it’s not that bad. Hopefully, the draft law allows foreigners to invest, without quotation marks, in Iraq. But it’s very odd that even the BBC and Reuters aren’t saying. It gives me a queasy feeling of being told: “Look over here! Don’t look at the man behind the curtain!”