WASHINGTON - Oil tycoon T. Boone Pickens
told Congress on Wednesday that U.S. energy companies are
"entitled" to some of Iraq's crude because of the large number
of American troops that lost their lives fighting in the
country and the U.S. taxpayer money spent in Iraq.
Boone, speaking to the newly formed Congressional Natural
Gas Caucus, complained that the Iraqi government has awarded
contracts to foreign companies, particularly Chinese firms, to
develop Iraq's vast reserves while American companies have
mostly been shut out.
"They're opening them (oil fields) up to other companies
all over the world ... We're entitled to it," Pickens said of
Iraq's oil. "Heck, we even lost 5,000 of our people, 65,000
injured and a trillion, five hundred billion dollars."
President Barack Obama has pledged to withdraw U.S. troops
"We leave there with the Chinese getting the oil," Pickens
Iraq's Oil Minister Hussain al-Shahristani told a
Washington conference on Wednesday that his government was
happy with the energy auction it held earlier this year. The
auction was the first chance for foreign oil firms to compete
for Iraqi oil since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003.
"We're pleased with scale and participation of the IOC
(International Oil Companies) and the transparent and public
competition," Shahristani said at a U.S.-Iraq business and
BP and the Chinese oil company CNPC were the only firms to
win a contract in Iraq's bid round this summer, the first
chance for foreign oil firms to compete for Iraqi oil since the
U.S.-led invasion in 2003. Seven other oil and gas fields
failed to attract bidders on the terms Iraq offered.
But a consortium headed by Italy's ENI (ENI.MI: Quote, Profile, Research) said last
week it signed a deal to develop the giant Zubair field for a
remuneration fee of $2 a barrel. At Iraq's oilfield auction in
June, the consortium refused to go below $4.40 a barrel.
Two consortiums are still competing for a deal to develop
the even larger West Quran oilfield. They are Russia's LUKOIL
(LKOH.MM: Quote, Profile, Research) and ConocoPhillips (COP.N: Quote, Profile, Research) and another consortium
headed by Exxon Mobil (XOM.N: Quote, Profile, Research).
(Reporting by Tom Doggett, additional reporting by Simon Webb;
editing by Jim Marshall)