War for Oil?

I have no idea where to put this question. It doesn’t have one exact answer and I am not really interested in debating so I picked here. Mods, please punish me with spankings if I am wrong.

I have heard people say that the possible war wiith Iraq is mainly about oil. I am having a hard time understanding this and I am hoping the dopers will help me.

How does the US stand to benefit oil-wise from war with Iraq?
I always thought that OPEC set the oil prices. Am I wrong? Will the price of oil go down after a war with Iraq? Do people think the US is going to take over the oil fields in Iraq?

Well, this probably should have gone to debates, but I’ll try to keep an uncontroversial as possible.

  • The U.S. will probably not seize direct control of the oil fields.
  • A more favorable regime in Iraq could improve U.S. access to Iraqi oil.
  • Hi O… oh, never mind.
  • OPEC does not set oil prices, but it does influence them. Iraq is a member of OPEC.

I hope that helps you see how oil issues could be a factor in the looming war, without actually torquing anyone off enough to yell at me. I hate it when people get unpleasant!

That is why I put this in IMHO Greg. I just want opinions. I can’t handle controversy tonight. Thanks for your answers…I have another question.

Doesn’t the US already have access to Iraqi oil? I thought they sold it to us now.

Remember, too, Iraq is under oil embargo; a regime change would start the oil flowing.

There is also the issue that Bush and Chaney were in the oil business and they have many friends there that would benefit if more oil comes from Iraq. It’s hard to say how much of a factor this is – Saddam is definitely worth getting rid of on general principles – but it certainly does nothing to dissuade the administration from going to war.

The oil won’t start flowing very quickly. Iraq is thought to have great reserve potential, but its production facilities are woefully decrepit, and exploration has been at a standstill since the Gulf War.

Access to oil is a vital strategic interest, and it has been a factor in wars before. But our involvement in the Middle East is complex, and oil is only part of the mix. It’s hard for me to imagine how our support of Israel facilitates our access to oil from the region.

As RealityChuck noted, Saddam’s enough of a threat to the world to merit removal even if he had no oil at all (although that oil certainly is a factor in why he’s such a bad boy with bad toys).

And, of course, the U.S. is hardly the only consumer of MidEast oil. Europe would be a much quieter, and chillier, place without it.

Well, if I understand things correctly, the former USSR and France are the countries that have contracts to extract the oil from Iraq. The US doesn’t have a big dog in that fight. Oil prices might drop but US companies will not make a whole lot of money. France has a big interest in this because the French decided to kill their Nuclear power plants. About %70 of France’s power came from Nuclear power. France needs energy so they are being buddies with Iraq. France is more interested in the oil than the US.


Opinion only here, but I think the French are more oil-oriented in this whole thing than the US is. The French have many oil contracts with the Iraqis and have had no compuctions about selling them military equipment. Any sort of war disrupts France’s Iraqi oil supply.

As previously mentioned, Iraq’s oil distribution infrastructure needs some serious attention. Even with a regime change it will take a while before oil would start flowing at full capacity.

If the US really wanted more oil at all costs, why not just drill here? Why invade Iraq when we could drill in Alaska and the Gulf of Mexico? There are many sources of oil that the US has limited itself from accessing by means of its own government.

Saddam has become such a nuisance because he sits upon a valuable resource that generates money. If Saddam dictated events in, say, Paraguay, he would not be able to strangle his country and still have enough money available to purchase biological weapon expertise. The oil generates the money for Saddam to buy his nasty toys.

Thus the oil gets tangled up with the dictator.

If oil is such a factor in what we do, why are we ignoring what is going on down in Venezuela? Why didn’t we grab the southern fields from Iraq during the war in 1991. Why did we put an oil embargo on Iraq, which cut drastically their production and thus the supply?
If a new regime comes to power in Iraq, can they decide whether or not to join OPEC? I also disagree with the statement that OPEC does not set the price of oil. They set it for their members and non-members generally follow. In the past they had trouble enforcing the set price, but isn’t that a different question?

I don’t understand something. Twice in this thread, an oil embargo has been mentioned, yet the U.S. currently gets 6% of its oil from Iraq. How can that be?

Scratch that – Iraq produces 13% of the U.S.'s oil.

Um … good figures are hard to find. Petroleumworld.com says Iraw provides 9% of U.S. oil as of May 2002.

Thanks for the answers guys. As usual however answers just bring more questions. I have heard any number of times that that war is “all about oil” and I am struggling to figure out how big of a part oil was really playing.

So, if OPEC sets oil prices for OPEC countries and Iraq is an OPEC country how will the US or the US oil comanies benefit from a war with Iraq? I know that OPEC lowers the price as production increases but don’t they set production levels for their countries too?