NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Only Conspiracy Theorists could Believe Oil is the U.S. Objective in Iraq

March 5, 2003

Some politicians and members of the media have a theory that President Bush's call to arms against Iraq is motivated by a desire to control that country's oil. But this doesn't make sense for a number of reasons -- not the least of which is that a war in the Middle East will almost certainly disrupt world oil supplies and contribute to higher, wildly fluctuating prices.

Then there is the risk that Saddam Hussein might set fire to his own oil fields and those of neighboring nations in the event of war.

  • The United States has dramatically diversified its sources of oil since the Gulf war and much of that new supply comes from outside of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).
  • Russia and the countries of the former Soviet Union, for example, present tremendous opportunities for oil development and supply.
  • A recent study by the National Center for Policy Analysis points out that Iraq's oil reserves are just a drop in the global oil bucket -- and, in fact, U.S. imports from Iraq amount to only 3 percent or so the oil consumed here.
  • According to the University of Oklahoma's David Deming, the world has likely used less than one-third of the world's conventional petroleum resources.

Furthermore, Deming estimates that between conventional and unconventional petroleum supplies, the world may have more than a 500-year supply of oil at year 2000 production rates.

In short, the U.S. has plenty of reasons to go to war with Saddam without control of Iraqi oil being one of them.

Source: H. Sterling Burnett (National Center for Policy Analysis), "Not an Oil-Fired War," Washington Times, March 5, 2003.


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