WAR IN IRAQ 2003: Why Oil Is Such a Vital Factor

Coventry Evening Telegraph (England), March 20, 2003 | Go to article overview

WAR IN IRAQ 2003: Why Oil Is Such a Vital Factor


THE DENSE black skies above Kuwait's burning oilfields remain one of the strongest images from the end of the last Gulf War.

Saddam's forces set fire to at least 600 oil wells, sending millions of pounds up in smoke, and opened the taps on scores more as they fled the tiny emirate in 1991.

The wanton waste and its economic and environmental impact was shocking to a world ever-hungry for oil, and triggered fears that Saddam could order the destruction of Iraq's own oilfields if he felt his grip on power was under threat.

Iraq has the second largest oil reserves in the world, after Saudi Arabia, and many commentators believe that the powerful American oil industry's thirst for more resources is behind President Bush's determination to go to war.

Intelligence suggests that Saddam's forces and scientists could torch Iraq's oilfields within moments of an order, triggering an environmental disaster.

The US has said that troops from the "coalition of the willing" would secure the oilfields before this could happen. They will be protected for the Iraqi people and their revenue used to fund the reconstruction of the war-torn country's infrastructure.

But experts have questioned how much money will be generated immediately from an industry brought to its knees by war and sanctions. …

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