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Shelling Out for Shell | The Nation

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Shelling Out for Shell

Free trade... Free oil contracts... There it is again, that cute word "free."

Of 46 international oil companies, including firms from China, India and Russia that had their eye on the first major oil deals in post-Saddam Iraq, guess who got the gig? Exxon-Mobil, Shell, Total and BP!

The western giants got the first-of-a-kind no-bid contracts to service Iraq's biggest fields NOT because the US invaded Iraq for oil. Oh NO. According to the Iraqi Oil Ministry, Exxon-Mobil, Shell, Total et al received the first-of-a-kind, no-bid deals because, of the years of "free" consultations those companies have been giving to the ministry. The ministry also cited a certain "comfort level" in their joint operations. That's the ministry's word.

So how's your comfort level? The companies have been advising "without charge" thanks to you. They get to give their consults away because we the taxpayers have been picking up the tab. We've paid for the imperial influence peddlers, which is to say -- the US military. We've paid the Pentagon -- and the private mercenaries who keep the Green Zone "comfortable" for Big Oil and the Ministry. We the tax-payers have been shelling out for Shell - to the tune of over $750 million a day.

All that "free consulting" costs blood too: the blood of well over a million men and women and children and the health of a nation's water and soil.

It's not for naught. The companies are blissed out. Iraqi oil production is expected to go to 3 million barrels soon and 6 million barrels later. Imagine the revenues at today's $140 per barrel. It'll be great for profits. And don't forget: profit's just another word for money someone didn't pay for.

So take pride in the oil companies whom you helped to offer so much, so comfortably, for "free." But don't expect a piece of the profit. Expecting back would be disturbing the comforts of the cronies of big oil. Besides, the companies are counting on you not to think about it too much. "Free" sounds great. Don't let the facts - or the deaths -- mess with your comfort levels.

The F Word is a daily commentary by Laura Flanders on GRITtv. Watch GRITtv on Free Speech TV (Dish Network Ch. 9415) or at GRITtv.org. And become a subscriber.

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