Sunday, July 31, 2011

BP 'has gained stranglehold over Iraq' after oilfield deal is rewritten

New terms mean company will be paid even when production is disrupted, critics claim

Terry Macalister
The Observer, Sunday 31 July 2011

"BP has been accused of taking a "stranglehold" on the Iraqi economy after the Baghdad government agreed to pay the British firm even when oil is not being produced by the Rumaila field, confidential documents reveal.

The original deal for operating Iraq's largest field – half as big as the entire North Sea – has been rewritten so that BP will be immediately compensated for civil disruption or government decisions to cut production.

This potentially could influence the policy decisions made by Iraq in relation to the Opec oil cartel, and is a major step away from the original terms of an auction deal signed in the summer of 2009, critics claim.

"Iraq's oil auctions were portrayed as a model of transparency and a negotiating victory for the Iraqi government," said Greg Muttitt, author of Fuel on the Fire: Oil and Politics in Occupied Iraq. "Now we see the reality was the opposite: a backroom deal that gave BP a stranglehold on the Iraqi economy, and even influence over the decisions of Opec."

The concerns are shared by the Platform campaign group, which has obtained copies of the original and amended contracts and on Sunday will publish them on its website....."

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