On August 23, Iraqi Oil Minister Hussain Al Shahristani flew out of Iraq and headed for China. Five days later, he signed a $3b contract with the state-owned China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC). The agreement revived an earlier deal signed in 1997 for the development of the Ahdab field, located 160 kilometres southeast of Baghdad.
Contrary to post-invasion predictions, the first foreign contract for the development of an Iraqi oil field has not gone to a western oil major. In fact, the deal with a Chinese company has signalled that Iraq might have begun to strongly resist western oil interests, seeking a free run over its mammoth energy resources. The jury is now out on whether the deal with China will set a precedent that will derail the American oil project in Iraq.
Remember when the US Government promised that Iraq's oil would pay for the war and the reconstruction, and that you, the taxpayer would never pay a penny for the mess?