US delays planned meeting on exploiting Iraq's oil and gas reserves

Oct 30, 2002 01:00 AM

The US State Department has pushed back its planned meeting with Iraqi opposition leaders on exploiting Iraq's oil and gas reserves after a US military offensive removes Saddam Hussein from power to early December. According to a source at the State Department, all the desired participants are not yet available.

The Bush administration wants to have a working group of 12 to 20 people focused on Iraqi oil and gas to be able to recommend to an interim government ways of restoring the petroleum sector following a military attack in order to increase oil exports to partially pay for a possible US military occupation government -- further fuelling the view that controlling Iraqi oil is at the heart of the Bush campaign to replace Hussein with a more compliant regime.
The State Department wants to include not only Iraqi opposition leaders such as Ahmed Chalabi and Sharif Ali Bin al Hussein of the Iraqi National Congress, but recently defected personnel from Iraq's Ministry of Petroleum, and representatives of the US Energy Department. It had originally scheduled the meeting for the end of this month, but was unable to pull together everyone on its list.

According to the source, the working group will not only prepare recommendations for the rehabilitation of the Iraqi petroleum sector post-Hussein, but will address questions regarding the country's continued membership in OPEC and whether it should be allowed to produce as much as possible or be limited by an OPEC quota, and it will consider whether to honour contracts made between the Hussein government and foreign oil companies, including the $ 3.5 bn project to be carried out by Russian interests to redevelop Iraq's oilfields, which, along with numerous other development projects, has been thwarted by United Nations sanctions.

Source: OGI
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