The long-awaited report of John Chilcot, a senior UK civil servant, on the Iraqi War and the events that led to it has revealed that the UK energy business had a pretty solid vested interest in the conflict.
Documents revealed as part of the huge, 12-volume report, show that British government officials involved in the events that led up to the war, the war itself and the following restoration period pursued as a main objective the corporate interests of energy giants BP and Shell. This was not, however, mentioned in the 150-page summary of the impressively extensive report: 2.6 million words in all.
Secret meetings between government officials and BP and Shell to discuss how they would proceed once Saddam was been toppled are revealed in the document. Iraq, the minutes of one such a meeting read, is “special for the oil companies” and “BP are desperate to get in there.”
In other words, what Chilcot’s report has revealed, albeit reluctantly and seemingly unwillingly, is that energy, not weapons for mass destruction (non-existent as it turned out) was the main motive for the Iraq invasion and the bloody conflict that ensued.
Energy concerns continued to top the agenda in the aftermath of the war as well. According to Open Democracy, a theme repeatedly appearing in the documents that were analysed by Chilcot and his team was “to transfer Iraq’s oil industry from public ownership to the hands of multinational companies, and to make sure BP and Shell get a large piece of that.” Related: Diminishing Outages Could Exacerbate Oil’s Fall
BP operates the huge Rumaila oilfield in Iraq, while Shell operates the equally giant Majnoon field. From 2010, when BP stepped in as operator, Rumaila produced 2.2 billion barrels of crude to 2015 and at the moment accounts for a third of Iraq’s overall oil output.
Production at the Majnoon field, on the other hand, only started around three years ago, with the firs crude flowing in 2014. Since then, production had reached 210,000 barrels by 29015, but as oil prices began sliding, Shell moved to revise future production targets, as exploitation of the field under those price circumstances became much less lucrative.
By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com
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