Mar 31, 2003
Almost two years ago, Vice President Dick Cheney presented a report proposing a strategy to permit the U.S. to meet its oil needs. He forecast that between 2001 and 2002, U.S. dependence on imported oil would climb from 52 to 66%. And he estimated that by 2020 the U.S. would have to import 60% more oil than it does now. U.S. consumption would go from 10.6 to 16.7 million barrels a day.
Among the longer term objectives of this strategy was taking control of the great lines of oil supply which are the Caucuses and the Middle East, along with Colombia, Venezuela and Angola, hoping to contain its Russian and Chinese rivals. (China gets 60% of its supplies from the Middle East.)
Last year's intervention in Afghanistan permitted the U.S. to reinforce its presence in Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and more recently in Georgia – all oil producers.
This year's war on Iraq promises to open up Iraq's vast oil reserves. Iraq's reserves are today estimated at 112 billion barrels (almost 10% of world reserves). And due to all the wars Iraq has been involved in, many of these known reserves remain unexploited.
When Cheney presented his report, the U.S. hadn't managed to establish itself in Iraq. Iraqi oil was mainly exploited by French companies (TotalFinaElf), Russian (Lukoil) or Chinese (Chinese Petroleum).
Forcibly taking control of Iraqi oil is a way to open up this part of the world's oil. According to specialists, production costs of Iraqi oil should be among the lowest in the world.
The Bush administration – loaded as it is with oil men, starting with the whole Bush family, as well as Cheney – is already counting on new oil dollars coming in, now that the war has started.