The Iraq Payoff at Last: Halliburton and Others Line Up for Oil Contracts

Friday, January 15, 2010
Rumaila Oil Field, Iraq (photo: al-Jazeera)

Iraq wants to rival Saudi Arabia as the world’s top oil producer, and American corporations are happy to help Baghdad get there. With the Iraqi government ready to rebuild and expand its petroleum industry, some of the biggest oil drilling and supply businesses in the U.S. are vying for contracts that could total $10 billion over the next five years. Firms lining up for work include four from Houston, Texas—Halliburton, Baker Hughes, Weatherford International and Schlumberger—plus KBR, Bechtel, Parsons, Fluor and Foster Wheeler.

Four of these companies—Halliburton, KBR, Bechtel and Parsons—have been criticized by the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction for their previous work in Iraq. Complaints have ranged from overcharging by hundreds of millions of dollars to doing shoddy work to falling behind schedule on projects.
Given the problems Iraq’s government has had with corruption and accountability, observers wonder how well its money will be spent on work promised by some American businesses.
Joost R. Hiltermann, deputy program director for the Middle East and North Africa with the International Crisis Group, told The New York Times that Iraq is desperate for more oil revenues. “But the government has little capacity to monitor the many companies that will be involved in rehabilitating its ailing oil industry, or indeed its own operations,” Hiltermann said. “This is a recipe for massive corruption, but for Iraqi policy makers the cost will be worth it, given the expected massive returns.”
-Noel Brinkerhoff
U.S. Companies Join Race on Iraqi Oil Bonanza (by Timothy Williams, New York Times)
The Battle for Iraq’s Oil Contracts (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)
Iraq’s Oil: Ready at Last (by Noel Brinkerhoff and David Wallechinsky, AllGov)


Leave a comment