Global News Journal
Beyond the World news headlines
Five years after the U.S.-led invasion to topple Saddam Hussein, Iraq is throwing open its oil sector to foreign oil firms in a way Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and others in the region are reluctant to. Oil Minister Hussain al-Shahristani says no company will have any special privilege.
Some analysts take a different view. They reckon U.S. and British oil majors are in a strong position to help develop the world’s third-largest oil reserves. Exxon Mobil, Chevron, Royal Dutch Shell and BP head the queue. They have already built up a relationship with Iraq’s oil officials by negotiating short-term technical deals.
Now Iraq is inviting bids for long-term development contracts at its biggest fields, the “backbone of its industry” in the words of Shahristani. He believes Iraq could become the world’s second- or third-biggest oil producing country, rivalling Saudi Arabia and Russia.
Are U.S. and British firms obvious choices as partners because of their expertise? After all, before the U.S.-led invasion Iraq often preferred Russian firms. Or are U.S. and British firms reaping the benefit of their governments’ policies?
China’s surprise decision late on Thursday to slash subsidies on fuel prices has been welcomed as a sign that Beijing is intent on reducing the pace of oil demand growth in the world’s second biggest energy consumer.
That, in theory, should help contain the upward spiral in world oil prices that took crude to a high of nearly $140 a barrel last week. Nine out of 10 analysts polled by Reuters immediately after the news took that line. But there is a contrarian view.