Saturday, October 12, 2019

The Peak Of The Oil Wars - 15

Feel your inner clock
I. Ancient History

Is 'oil wars' an ancient concept or is it just that we are not informed about 'oil wars' any more?

In this series that question has been asked and answered (The Peak Of The Oil Wars, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14).

The way it began is something like this:
Long before politicians mewled helplessly about the power of “Big Oil”, carbon-based fuels were shaping our very political, legal, intellectual, and physical structures.
For instance, the invasion of Iraq in 2003 was a pivotal moment in America’s strategic outlook. America, a global hegemon whose empire was weakening, seized the second largest oil deposits in the world as a way of preventing its economic and political decline.
The last declining global hegemon, Great Britain, also engaged in a brutal and highly controversial British occupation of Iraq, in the 1920s, pressed aggressively by the well-known British conservative, Winston Churchill.
From the moment he arrived at the Admiralty, a young man of destiny, Churchill started to prepare the fleet for the Battle of Armageddon he believed was inevitable.
Then, in 1911, the German Kaiser provoked the Agadir crisis ... Churchill went to the Admiralty and his outlook transformed. He was immediately confronted with the decisive question: to convert the navy from coal to oil ... the "fateful plunge" was made ... in April 1912 ... five oil-burning battleships were approved.
Britain was well supplied with coal [but not oil]. It was the Royal Navy which was the impetus for the development of the oil industry in Britain. The problem was supply and the security of that supply. Initially, the British government purchased shares in the Anglo-Persian Oil Company, subsequently, British Petroleum [BP].
Then, to prevent further disruptions, Britain enmeshed itself ever more deeply in the Middle East, working to install new shahs in Iran and carve Iraq out of the collapsing Ottoman Empire.

Churchill fired the starting gun, but all of the Western powers joined the race to control Middle Eastern oil.
(The Universal Smedley - 2). Strange beliefs mixed with technology and fossil fuels - particularly their location, is part and parcel of the real story.

So is foreign policy inspired by fossil fuels:
John D. Rockefeller, in his 1909 Random Reminiscences of Men and Events, recalled, "One of our greatest helpers has been the State Department. Our ambassadors and ministers and consuls have aided to push our way into new markets in the utmost corners of the world." But he left out a key explanation for the government's interest. Standard Oil was the biggest U.S. company, putting a hundred ships to sea, buying and selling oil in Latin America, Germany, and the Far East. It also operated a global intelligence system. "By 1885," according to one historian, "seventy percent of the Standard's business was overseas and it had its own network of agents through the world, and its own espionage service, to forestall the initiatives of rival companies or governments."
"The enemy aggressor is always pursuing a course of larceny, murder, rapine and barbarism. We are always moving forward with high mission, a destiny imposed by the Deity to regenerate our victims, while incidentally capturing their markets; to civilise savage and senile and paranoid peoples, while blundering accidentally into their oil wells or metal mines."
(The Authoritarianism of Climate Change). That was then perhaps, but is it still like that now?

II. Modern History

Once upon a time in Northern Iraq Kurds had hope of becoming oil-rich by controlling the oil rich areas around Kirkuk, but that did not pan out because the U.S. said so (Yes, Donald Trump Dumped the Kurds (And We Should Not Be Shocked)).

Meanwhile in Syria, oil ("the devil's excrement") was warping minds there (Syrian Oil, and… what caused the war?).

Then, once upon a time in N. Syria Kurds had hope of becoming oil-rich but ISIS controlled N. Syria where most of the Syrian oil is located.

So war broke out between the Kurds and ISIS (Control of Syrian Oil Fuels War Between Kurds and Islamic State).

The Syrian Kurds won that oil war (Kurds control 65 to 70% of Syrian Oil).

Now the Turks evidently want Syria’s Oil:
Even before the war, Syria was only a modest producer of oil and gas, averaging 400,000 barrels per day between 2008-2010, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, most of it exported to Europe and Turkey. Proven reserves stood at 2.5 billion barrels as of January 2013, according to estimates in the Oil & Gas Journal. That’s dwarfed by neighboring Iraq’s 145 billion barrels. Royal Dutch Shell Plc, Chevron Corp., and Total SA were among companies working in ventures with the state-run Syrian Petroleum Co. before the war. Most of Syria’s major oil assets are located in the Kurdish-controlled northeast. Exploration could also lead to the discovery of off-shore gas reserves given that giant deposits were found in Mediterranean waters further south near Egypt, Israel and Cyprus.
(Washington Post). As the beat goes on:
Turkish invasion could also open the door for Russian and Syrian forces to invade SDF territory from the west, or else prompt the SDF to form an alliance with the Assad regime and its allies to protect the mostly Kurdish force from Turkey’s advance. That could increase the influence of Assad’s Russian and Iranian partners in the region and grant them access to north-east Syria’s lucrative oil fields.

Who knows what else is involved?

Certainly not the U.S. president who said he was mad at Kurds for selling oil to Iran:
During a cabinet meeting on Wednesday, Trump said he was not happy that the Kurds are selling oil to Iran.

“I didn’t like the fact that [the Kurds] are selling the small oil that they have to Iran, and we asked them not to do it,” the US president stated.
(Kurdistan24 News). And so it goes.

III. Closing Comments

What we see in headlines in daily news papers and on TV and social media is the endless oil wars that came with the devil's excrement (Iran says missiles strike its oil tanker off Saudi Arabia).

They will reach their peak when they, the oil wars, go nuclear (The Doomsday Clock).

The previous post in this series is here.


  1. "... last month’s attack on Saudi Arabia ... on the kingdom’s production facilities caused the biggest [oil production] disruption in modern history ..." (link).

  2. Good article. I am dealing with some of these issues as well..

  3. "Trump blurts out a startling statement: ‘We’ve taken control of the oil in the Middle East’" (RawStory)

  4. "After President Donald Trump said on Monday the U.S. will be 'keeping the oil' in northeastern Syria, his administration is looking into the 'specifics,' according to a senior State Department official — but it’s prompted renewed cries that doing so is a war crime … Pillaging is illegal under international law, explicitly prohibited by the Fourth Geneva Convention … The U.S. War Crimes Act of 1996 also made it punishable under U.S. law to commit a 'grave breach' of any of the Geneva conventions 'whether inside or outside the United States.'" (link)

  5. "Trump wants to end the forever wars — except the one about oil and money" (It’s about the oil, stupid).

  6. The warmongers are not finished: "What would take it to the next level would be to destroy the ability of the Iranians to refine oil and sell it. The oil refineries are the last things they have in terms of economy." (NewsWeek quoting Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) (link).