12 May 2007

We Are All Shocked - Shocked! - At Missing Iraq Oil

Fresh from Reuters:
Billions of dollars worth of Iraq's declared oil production over the past four years is unaccounted for, possibly having been siphoned off through corruption or smuggling, The New York Times says.

Between 100,000 and 300,000 barrels of Iraq's daily output of roughly 2 million barrels is missing, it said, citing a draft report prepared by the US Government Accountability Office and government energy analysts which is expected to be released next week...

The report did not make a final conclusion on what happened to the missing oil, and provided alternative explanations besides corruption or smuggling, including possible Iraqi overstating of its production.

A State Department official who works on energy matters offered possible explanations including pipeline sabotage, or inaccurate reporting of oil production in southern Iraq.

"It could also be theft," the Times quoted the unnamed official as saying, with suspicion falling on southern Shi'ite militias. "Crude oil is not as lucrative in the region as refined products, but we're not ruling that out either," the official said.

"There is not an issue of insurgency, per se, but it could be funding Shia factions, and that could very well be true."
What they don't dare say is that Bush and Cheney could be siphoning off for their own profit. Or should I re-phrase that for the wingnuts? Perhaps US-based Big Oil, with help from Bush and Cheney, has been pumping free oil out of Iraq for some time, while taxpayer-funded Blackwater mercenaries guard the pipelines from any other wannabe poachers.

This oil production story is not actually new. Critics have been asking questions about Iraq's anomalous oil production figures for several years. It's only because a US government study has been leaked to the NYT that this is finally coming out.
Erik Kreil, an oil expert at the administration who is familiar with the analysis, said a review of industry figures worldwide indicated Iraq's stated production figures did not add up.

"Either they're producing less, or they're producing what they say and the difference is completely unaccounted for in any of the places we think it should go," Kreil told the Times.

"Either it's overly optimistic, or it's unaccounted for."

Analysts outside the government said such a large discrepancy indicated that there was either a major smuggling operation in place or that Iraq was not generating accurate production figures, the newspaper added.
Four years since the invasion, oil remains the great untold story of the Iraq War. There's a Pulitzer waiting for anyone who can bring it to the public's attention. But of course, you'd have to get your story published by Big Media first.