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The oil curse

The history of oil investment in the developing world hints at trouble ahead for the multinationals in Iraq

By Daniel Litvin   May 2003

In the west’s plans for the rebuilding of Iraq?and in particular the likely involvement of western oil companies?it is possible to detect the seeds of some familiar tensions.

Once the American and British soldiers have departed, and once the post-war administration of Iraq is handed over to a new, presumably democratic, local regime, investment by the likes of ExxonMobil, Shell, BP, and (if the French are allowed a share) TotalFinaElf, is likely to be the principal form of western involvement in the country.

America has promised that Iraq’s oil will be utilised for the benefit of the Iraqi people, but…

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