In a lengthy piece on AlterNet, Joshua Holland explains how, as Iraq falls apart, four big oil companies are homing in on the country’s natural resources.

If ever an article revealed the stench of corruption emanating from the Iraq saga, this is it. At a time when major world players are staking their claim to the world’s oil resources, most notably China - an emerging contender for the US no. 1 position - it is clear the oil drenched cabal that decides US foreign policy knew exactly what they were doing in dreaming up pretexts to invade Iraq.

Iraq's oil reserves have to be the biggest prize since the end of WWII. The US Department of Energy has stated: "Iraq contains 112 billion barrels of proven oil reserves, the second largest in the world (behind Saudi Arabia), along with roughly 220 billion barrels of probable and possible resources. Iraq's true potential may be far greater than this, however, as the country is relatively unexplored due to years of war and sanctions."

Moreover, Iraq’s oil is cheap and easy to extract, thus it yields greater profits. James Paul, executive director of the Global Policy Forum, observes how oil companies "can produce a barrel of Iraqi oil for less than $1.50 and possibly as little as $1, including all exploration, oilfield development and production costs." Contrast that with other areas where oil is considered cheap to produce at $5 per barrel or the North Sea, where production costs are $12-16 per barrel.Iraq has more undeveloped oilfields than anywhere on the planet.
The "Holy Grail" of the oil fields lies beneath the sand of the immense western desert. There is perhaps enough oil there to propel the country to the global oil reserves number one position. As Holland comments: “the country's enormous reserves could break the back of OPEC, a wet dream in Western capitals for three decades.”
The oil fraternity are unanimous on one thing - namely. who will walk off with the profits from the plunder of Iraq's oil: US firms Exxon-Mobile and Chevron, the British BP-Amoco and Royal Dutch-Shell -- that dominate the world oil market.

What I find utterly sickening, reading Holland's report, is that at a time when half a million Iraqi childen were dying (nay, murdered) as a direct result of the US-UN imposed sanctions on Iraq, by one means or another, the US received 37% of Iraqi oil. Perhaps this is exactly what Madeleine Albright (the then US Sec. of State) was thinking of when, questioned about the deaths of so many infant Iraqis, replied it was "a price worth paying."
Read on here...

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