Friday, June 20, 2008

CLIPS

Four Western oil companies are in the final stages of negotiations this month on contracts that will return them to Iraq, 36 years after losing their oil concession to nationalization as Saddam Hussein rose to power. Exxon Mobil, Shell, Total and BP - the original partners in the Iraq Petroleum Company - along with Chevron and a number of smaller oil companies, are in talks with Iraq's Oil Ministry for no-bid contracts to service Iraq's largest fields, according to ministry officials, oil company officials and an American diplomat. The deals, expected to be announced on June 30, will lay the foundation for the first commercial work for the major companies in Iraq since the American invasion, and open a new and potentially lucrative country for their operations. The no-bid contracts are unusual for the industry, and the offers prevailed over others by more than 40 companies, including companies in Russia, China and India. The contracts, which would run for one to two years and are relatively small by industry standards, would nonetheless give the companies an advantage in bidding on future contracts in a country that many experts consider to be the best hope for a large-scale increase in oil production. NY Times

A Washington Post editorial reports on a meeting between the Post's editors and Iraq's Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari, in which Zebari describes a conversation he had with Barack Obama, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee: "The foreign minister said 'my message' to Mr. Obama 'was very clear. . . . Really, we are making progress. I hope any actions you will take will not endanger this progress.' He said he was reassured by the candidate's response, which caused him to think that Mr. Obama might not differ all that much from Mr. McCain. Mr. Zebari said that in addition to promising a visit, Mr. Obama said that 'if there would be a Democratic administration, it will not take any irresponsible, reckless, sudden decisions or action to endanger your gains, your achievements, your stability or security. Whatever decision he will reach will be made through close consultation with the Iraqi government and U.S. military commanders in the field.'"James Taranto, Wall Street Journal