Peak Oil, Missing
Meters and an Inactive Pipeline:
The Real Reason
for the Invasion of Iraq?
this article I will present research that supports a rather startling
hypothesis: that the USA
enable the secret diversion of a portion of Iraq’s
oil production to Saudi
Arabia. This was done in order to
the fact that Saudi
oil output has peaked, and may be in permanent decline. The
evidence for this conclusion is circumstantial, but it does knit up
of the loose threads in the mystery of the American administration’s
lay the groundwork we need to set out a couple of assumptions.
primary assumption is that the world’s oil production has been on a
plateau for the last two years, and in fact we may be teetering on the
the production decline predicted by the Peak Oil theory. Such a decline
be dangerous to the world economy, both directly through the loss of
capacity and indirectly (and perhaps more importantly) through the loss
investor confidence in the global economic structure.
second assumption is that the oil production of Saudi Arabia is key to
the global oil supply. Saudi Arabia
supplies over 10% of the world’s crude oil, with over half of that
one enormous field named Ghawar. There
is a large and well-informed body of opinion that believes that if
production goes into decline the world will follow because there is not
spare capacity anywhere else to make up for such a decline. Saudi Arabia is notoriously
tight-lipped about the state of their oil fields, and in fact oil
information is considered to be a state secret. The only trustworthy
information the world really has about Saudi Arabia’s oil are
conclusion that can be drawn from these two assumptions is that if
Arabia’s production began to decline and the world found out about it,
would be a significant risk of a world-wide economic panic that would
markets and throw nations like the USA into a recession or depression
would be worse than the actual damage done by the loss of the oil. We can assume that the prevention or
of such a crisis would be an extremely high priority for the
both the USA and Saudi Arabia.
meetings have long been a bone of contention with the Bush
administration. They have gone to
extraordinary lengths to keep the subject of the meetings absolutely
secret. These efforts are documented by
such sources as http://www.projectcensored.org/publications/2005/8.html
do know the following:
- The task force was
created in the second week of
the Bush administration to develop national energy policies. They
met early in 2001 (well before September
11) to draft policy and develop plans.
- Task force meetings were attended by executives
of Exxon-Mobil Corp., Conoco, Royal Dutch Shell Oil Corp., and the
subsidiary of British Petroleum.
- Among the meager product that has been made
public are maps of Iraqi and Saudi Arabian oil fields and pipelines. On both these maps there is a pipeline called
IPSA (the Iraq Petroleum Saudi Arabia pipeline) that is marked “closed”. The maps are available at http://www.judicialwatch.org/IraqOilMap.pdf
is well known that the Iraqi Oil Ministry was the only major government
installation guarded by American troops following the fall of Baghdad.
Indeed it was guarded extremely well: according to an April,
story at http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2003/04/16/1050172643895.html:
forces rolled into central Baghdad a
one of the sole public buildings untouched by looters has been Iraq's
massive oil ministry, which is under round-the-clock surveillance by
building in the Al-Mustarisiya quarter is guarded by around 50 US
block every entrance, while sharpshooters are positioned on the roof
and in the
onlooker is clearly unwelcome. Any motorist who drifts within a few
the main entrance is told to leave immediately.
residents have complained that US troops should do more to protect
looters, most of them Shi'ite Muslims repressed by Saddam Hussein's
Sunni-dominated regime who live in the vast slum known as Saddam City
on the northern outskirts.
museums, banks, hotels and libraries have been ransacked, the oil
ostensible reason for this extraordinary focus was to protect Iraq’s
asset. Indeed an American captain is
quoted in the article as saying, "Anyone who says we're protecting this
ministry to steal Iraqi oil doesn't know what's really going on in this
March 22, 2007, CorpWatch published an article entitled “Mystery of the
Missing Meters: Accounting for Iraq's
Oil Revenue” (http://www.corpwatch.org/article.php?id=14427).
In it they make the following claims:
- At the oil
terminals of Al Basra (ABOT) and Khawr al Amaya (KAAOT), “smugglers are
suspected to be diverting an estimated billions of dollars worth of
tankers because the oil metering system that is supposed monitor how
flows into and out of ABOT and KAAOT - has not worked since the March
invasion of Iraq.”
blame the four-year delay in repairing the relatively simple system on
"security problems." Others point to the failed efforts of the two U.S. companies hired to repair the
fields, fix the two terminals, and the meters: Halliburton
of Houston, Texas,
and Parsons of Pasadena,
- Rumors are
rife among suspicious Iraqis about the failure to measure the oil flow.
"Iraq is the victim of the biggest robbery of its oil production in
history," blazed a March 2006 headline in Azzaman, Iraq's most widely read newspaper. A May 2006
study of oil production and export figures by Platt's Oilgram News, an
industry magazine, showed that up to $3
billion a year is unaccounted for.
- The kinds
of meters they were supposed to repair or replace at ABOT are commonly
hundreds of similar sites around the world. Because they are
shipped, then assembled and calibrated on site, the process can take up
year. But the probelm has persisted for four years.
- After the
2003 invasion, the meters appear to have been turned off and there have
been no reliable estimates of how much crude has been shipped from the
would say probably between 200,000 and 500,000 barrels a day is
unaccounted for in Iraq," Mikel Morris, who worked for the Iraq
Reconstruction Management Organization (IRMO) at the U.S. embassy in
told KTVT, a Texas television
we’ll look at that pipeline on those Energy Task force maps.
Iraq Petroleum Saudi Arabia (IPSA) pipeline was built during the
Iran-Iraq war to circumvent attacks by Iran on Iraqi tankers in
Gulf. It has a capacity of 1.7 million barrels per day
and runs from Iraq's southern oil fields to the Saudi port of Yanbu,
north of Jeddah. It later served both Iraq and Saudi
Arabia, but has been closed by the Saudis since Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait. The Saudis claim ownership of the pipeline,
pipeline was reported ready to resume operation in September, 2003 (http://www.ameinfo.com/28059.html
month later in October however, we heard this (from http://www.gasandoil.com/goc/news/ntm34663.htm
20-10-03 The 1.7 mm bpd crude
pipeline which runs from Iraq
across Saudi Arabia
to the Red Sea is
in no condition to be utilised for Iraqi exports. When asked about
Iraq was in
re-open the line, a Saudi Aramco official said that the Iraqis "don't
what they are talking about. The pipeline is not in a state to be
is it usable or isn’t it? I can’t
find anything except this denial to indicate that it’s unserviceable,
State Department presentation (http://www.state.gov/documents/organization/60011.pdf
) indicates that it’s closed with no plans to re-open.
I can find no evidence of insurgent attacks
against it, so there is at least some possibility that it is running.
Saudi Arabia’s Oil Production History
Arabia’s oil production has been deliberately increased and decreased
over the years in like with their role as the world’s “swing producer”
country with enough capacity to open the taps to keep prices from
high and the political discipline to restrict production if prices fell. In the period from 2001 to the end of 2003,
“price band” was set by OPEC at $22 to $28 per barrel.
At the beginning of 2004 oil prices moved
above this band, and have never returned to it.
This seems to indicate that OPEC members, and particularly Saudi Arabia,
don’t have the excess capacity that would be required to bring the
prices back within
the traditional band. The suspension of
the price band in 2005 seems to be in recognition of this new market
graph of Saudi oil production is very interesting. It clearly shows the
fluctuations in supply during 2002
and 2003, presumably attributable to their role as a swing producer. At the beginning of 2004, however, something
very curious happens. There is a very
rapid rise in production of 1.3 million barrels per day over the course
months. This production level is
maintained with only one small dip (which may indicate the temporary
of production from the new Haradh III oil field) until the beginning of
2006. At that point a decline sets in
that has not yet been arrested, resulting in a fall of 8% over the last
year. This decline has been validated by
four independent sets of data, as described here: http://www.theoildrum.com/node/2331
have never been entirely satisfied with the unofficial explanations for
war. I do accept (as does this article)
the idea that the war was somehow “about oil,” yet none of the existing
for why that should be so are terribly convincing.
States could have achieved
significant influence over the disposition of Iraqi oil through
diplomatic and commercial means, without the expenditure of so many
so much money.
hypothesis advanced by Canadian journalist, Linda McQuaig, in her book
“It’s the Crude, Dude” argues that the US invaded to acquire the
stick” of oil ownership and sales rights in order to be better able to
friends and punish its enemies, thereby shaping regional and global
power structures. To me this seems a
costly, indirect and
ineffective mechanism, especially if the global oil supply is
nations can buy from whomever they wish.
there is the hypothesis that invasion was staged to permit western oil
companies (particularly those with close ties to the Bush
take control of the fields and reap windfall profits.
This speculation also comes up short in my
opinion. Those oil companies were already doing very well. An invasion
occupation are very risky ventures, and are intrinsically unlikely to
the stable environment required for a simple transfer of commercial
(neo-con dreams of flowers, candy and regime change notwithstanding). The costs seem entirely out of proportion to
the potential rewards.
speculation of this article is that the real background of the Iraq
something like this:
Bush administration is composed primarily of
oilmen. They are well aware of the Peak
are also aware of the risks that a decline
in global oil production could pose to the world’s political and
stability, especially if it is generally perceived to be the result of
irreversible geological conditions (i.e. we start to realize that the
running out of oil and there’s nothing we can do about it).
Bush administration and the Saudis are also
well aware of the role Saudi Arabia plays as the
linchpin of world oil
Bush administration and the Saudis are very
good friends, and share intimate secrets like the actual state of Saudi
early 2001 the Saudis tell George and Dick that
Ghawar has started to “water out”: the
oil they are pumping up contains more and more of the water that they
to force oil into the wells. This is a sure
sign that the field is nearing the end of its useful life.
news triggers very loud alarm bells in Washington and Riyadh,
because if Ghawar and overall Saudi production are about to decline
the risk of global instability that much closer.
two administrations decide they need to keep
the imminence of Saudi oil decline out of the public consciousness for
as possible. To do this they need to
accomplish two things: mask the decline of Saudi Arabia, and make it appear
as though any decline in Middle East production is due to
they have a ready target in Iraq. Saddam is
vulnerable, he has lots of oil, and
Iraqi oil production has been in chaos since Gulf War 1. And he
controls the input end of the IPSA
Cheney’s Energy Task Force meetings the plan
is developed and western oil companies are brought into the
This ensures they will be onside and will not
start asking awkward questions later about the provenance of Saudi oil.
a parallel effort, the Saudis agree to
sponsor an attack on US
soil to provide the Bush administration with the required “casus
The Saudis recruit 15 of their own citizens
to form the core of the September 11 attack team.
the attack has taken place the march to war
begins. It doesn’t matter how flimsy the
excuses are, all that matters is that the progress of the plan cannot
derailed under any circumstances. No
penetration of the ruse, however small, will be permitted. This
determination results in the Wilson/Plame
reprisal, the killing of Dr. David Kelly and possibly other killings
of State Department WMD analyst John Kokal (http://www.fromthewilderness.com/free/ww3/112003_kokal.html
). The real reason for the invasion must
never be discovered.
is duly invaded and Baghdad
is captured. The Oil Ministry is the
only facility to be secured because it’s the only one that matters to
meters in the southern oil fields are immediately
shut off and sabotaged so nobody can tell how much oil is missing.
un-metered oil is redirected into the
perfectly functional IPSA pipeline and enters Saudi Arabia.
are now two possibilities for what happens to the purloined oil:
arrives at the Saudi port of Yanbu where it is loaded
onto tankers as
legitimate Saudi oil, and shipped to international customers.
There is a problem with this scenario, because the oil coming in from
Iraq has a slightly different chemical signature from Saudi oil.
This small difference would be noticed by customers, because the
refineries need to know the characteristics of their feedstock very
more reasonable solution is that this oil is piped to refineries in
Saudi Arabia and is used to satisfy domestic demand. The Saudi
oil spared by this substitution is shipped out to customers, and no one
is the wiser. This is both safer and easier than the first
suggestion, because the stolen oil never leaves Saudi Arabia, and its
disposition falls under the obscuring veil of Saudi secrecy. This
also makes the case harder to prove, of course.
1.7 million barrel per day volume of the
IPSA pipeline and the timing of the rise seen in Saudi oil production
2004 fit the scenario perfectly.
decline in overall Middle Eastern oil production can
now be blamed on the civil war in Iraq, which has been
blessing in disguise or a calculated part of the plan. The
attacks on oil installations have also
made it easy to disguise the disappearance of a full
tanker-load-equivalent of oil
was all going well, except that the decline
in Saudi oil production exceeded everyone’s expectations. Even
with the Iraqi subterfuge in place the
decline of 800,000 barrels per day over the last year could not be
is as yet no smoking gun to support this hypothesis.
This remains a work of pure speculation,
based on a suggestive convergence of events and incidents.
The one feature of this hypothesis that makes
it attractive is the extent to which it can accommodate all the odd and
otherwise inexplicable events of the last six years.
On the other hand, it can be accused of
suffering from the common failing of conspiracy theories: it would take
many people to implement. The argument
against that is that these events have demonstrably occurred and the
of the hypothesis, the peaking of Saudi oil production, would not
many people to be aware of it in order for it to provide sufficient
for such a devious scheme.
welcome any additional thoughts or suggestions of evidence on this
scenario. I would especially like to
hear of any evidence that would falsify the hypothesis – particularly
of the (in)operability of the IPSA pipeline.
Copyright 2007, Paul Chefurka
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