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U.S. Oil Companies Lose Out in Iraq Oil Auction

By Martin Laine     Dec 14, 2009 in Business
European and Asian bidders were the big winners in this weekend’s auction of Iraq’s lucrative oil field auction while U.S. companies were left out in the cold.
According to a report in the Financial Times, European companies Royal Dutch Shell, Gazprom, and Lukoil, and Asian companies China’s CNPC and Malaysia’s Petronas were the big winners. This was the second auction of Iraq’s oil reserves, and reportedly the largest in history. The reserves auctioned off total more than the reserves of Mexico, the U.S. and the U.K. combined.
In June, at the first such auction, BP was the first western oil group to be allowed access to the Iraqi fields since the industry was nationalized in 1972.
Speaking before the Congressional Natural Gas Caucus in October, oil magnate T. Boone Pickens said the cost in lives and money entitled U.S. companies to some of the Iraqi crude.
“They’re opening them (oil fields) up to other companies all over the world. We’re entitled to it,” he said. “Heck, we even lost 5,000 of our people, 65,000 injured and a trillion, five hundred billion dollars. We leave there with the Chinese getting the oil.”
American companies won bids on just two of the 10 fields up for auction, surprising many observers.
“Iraq finally opened its doors after six years of war, and instead of U.S. companies, you have Asians and Europeans leading the way,” said Ruba Husari, editor of Iraq Oil Forum.
Analysts said concerns over security, particularly with the recent wave of coordinated bombings, may have kept American companies away.
More about Iraq oil, Boone pickens, Auction
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