Magazine of Socialist Action in Australia

Big oil returns to Iraq

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Over five years since the US invasion of Iraq four of the world’s biggest oil companies have signed agreements for repair and technical support in major oilfields in Iraq.
By Chris Newby, Socialist Party

Contrary to the myth peddled by George Bush this recent announcement confirms what the Socialist Party has consistently argued. Namely, that one of the major reasons for the US-led war and occupation of Iraq has been for the major oil companies to get their hands on Iraq’s nationalised oil wealth.

Even Alan Greenspan, the former chairman of the US Federal Reserve, said last year: “Everyone knows: the Iraq war is largely about oil.”

The four companies – BP, Shell, Exxon Mobil and Total – will make $515 million each from this agreement, small money for these oil giants. But they all have their eyes on the bigger prize of the potential ownership and control of Iraq’s vast oil and gas wealth.

These agreements put them in prime position to achieve that, putting them first in the queue in the race to gain control of this oil wealth. Iraq’s oil reserves, estimated at 115 billion barrels, are second only to Saudi Arabia in the Middle East and the gas reserves are estimated at 112 trillion cubic feet. These companies are no doubt licking their lips at the thought of the vast profits they could make from all of this.

These four companies were all previously co-owners of the Iraq Petroleum company (once the Turkish petroleum company) formed in 1912 by oil companies eager to grab the profits from the natural resources in parts of the Ottoman Empire. In 1931 an agreement was signed with Iraq giving the company complete control over the oil fields in Mosul.

However, in 1972 Saddam Hussein nationalised the oil industry and no doubt ever since, these companies have been looking for any opportunity to get their greedy hands back on this vast source of wealth.

The Socialist Party consistently argues for genuine democratic public ownership and control of Iraq’s natural resources, to be used for the benefit of all Iraqis.


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