Oil & the spoils of the Iraq war

January 11, 2007

Armies and oil

(Picture from the New York Times article below)

Three opinion pieces about the true price of the Iraq war, and the hidden price of oil:

The Independent: The Oil Rush

The Independent: Future of Iraq: The Spoils of War

The New York Times: War & Cheap Oil: A Second Look

Here’s a small bit (from the Spoils of War piece):

How the West will make a killing on Iraqi oil riches
By Danny Fortson, Andrew Murray-Watson and Tim Webb
Published: 07 January 2007

Iraq’s massive oil reserves, the third-largest in the world, are about to be thrown open for large-scale exploitation by Western oil companies under a controversial law which is expected to come before the Iraqi parliament within days.

The US government has been involved in drawing up the law, a draft of which has been seen by The Independent on Sunday. It would give big oil companies such as BP, Shell and Exxon 30-year contracts to extract Iraqi crude and allow the first large-scale operation of foreign oil interests in the country since the industry was nationalised in 1972.

The huge potential prizes for Western firms will give ammunition to critics who say the Iraq war was fought for oil. They point to statements such as one from Vice-President Dick Cheney, who said in 1999, while he was still chief executive of the oil services company Halliburton, that the world would need an additional 50 million barrels of oil a day by 2010. “So where is the oil going to come from?… The Middle East, with two-thirds of the world’s oil and the lowest cost, is still where the prize ultimately lies,” he said.

Remind me again please, why are we in Iraq in the first place?


China Chokes on a Coal-Fired Boom

December 31, 2006

In regards to global warming, take my word for this: the end-game is China. What China does (or does not do) is what will shape the rest of the world in the years to come.

China, with its enormous economy, is a net-energy importer. As such, they are making deals hand-over fist with literally anyone who can supply them with energy, even if they are far away from them, i.e. Canadian tar sands.

Given the above scenario, it’s no wonder that China has horrible environmental problems:

Toxic cloud of progress can be seen from space

A great coal rush is under way across China on a scale not seen anywhere since the 19th century.

Its consequences have been detected half a world away in toxic clouds so big that they can seen from space, drifting across the Pacific to California laden with microscopic particles of chemicals that cause cancer and diseases of the heart and lung.

Nonetheless, the Chinese plan to build no fewer than 500 new coal-fired power stations, adding to some 2,000, most of them unmodernised, that spew smoke, carbon dioxide and sulphur dioxide into the atmosphere.

They have a toxic cloud so big that it can even be seen from space, and what to they do? Build more power plants, specifically coal-powered plants, which are even more toxic. Coal is used because it is cheap and plentiful (thus far that is) but as mentioned it is horribly toxic. It is used because oil is peaking throughout the world, and China – along with the rest of the world – is in a frantic scramble for oil.

Of course, there are consequences from all this coal-burning:

China had a hot and disastrous year in 2006, with average temperatures the highest since 1951, state media reported Sunday.

Xinhua News Agency said temperatures were on average 1 degree higher than in normal years. Meteorological officials were quoted as saying there was less rain than normal, down 16 millimeters (half an inch) from an average year.