‘‘No more blood for oil,’’ said one of the signs held during weekly peace vigils in downtown Lincoln sponsored by Nebraskans for Peace. New York Times columnist Bob Herbert, a war critic, wrote in 2005, ‘‘It’s the oil, stupid.’’
Even former U.S. Reserve Board Chairman Alan Greenspan wrote ‘‘the Iraq war is largely about oil’’ in his memoir.
However, when the Iraqi government awarded bids this month, most of the winners came from elsewhere, including China, Russia, Malaysia and Norway. Reuters reported that only Exxon Mobil won ‘‘a major prize.’’ U.S.-based Occidental also won as part of a consortium.
Iraqi officials were quick to trumpet the results. ‘‘For us in Iraq, it shows the government is fully free from outside influence,’’ Iraqi government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said. ‘‘No one, not even the United States, can steal the oil, whatever people think.’’
U.S. officials hammered the same theme. ‘‘The results of the bid round should lay to rest the old canard that the U.S. intervened in Iraq to secure Iraqi oil fields for American companies,’’ Philip Frayne at the U.S. embassy in Baghdad said.
One reason why U.S. firms did not do well is that many of them stayed out of the bidding entirely.
Analysts speculated that one reason U.S.-based firms were worried was about continuing violence in Iraq.
They also pointed out that U.S.-based firms already have established themselves in other Mideastern locations, such as Saudi Arabia, Qatar and United Arab Emirates.
They speculated that the publicly traded U.S. firms simply may not have been able to compete financially with bids from state-supported firms based in China and Angola, according to Reuters.
In any event, analysts project that the amount of oil pumped from Iraq, which has the third largest proven reserves in the world, should rise soon from the current 2.5 million barrels a day to 7 million barrels a day. By 2016, production may reach 12 million barrels a day, Iraqi officials predict.
The expansion of production and surging revenue will have enormous impact in Iraq, reviving the economy and lifting the standard of living.
The additional oil also should help reduce pressure on oil prices worldwide. That’s good news to motorists no matter where on the globe they drive.