The grand oil theft has begun: Oil giants poised to move into Basra

Western oil giants are poised to enter southern Iraq to tap the country’s vast reserves, despite the ongoing threat of violence, according to British Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s business emissary to the country.

Michael Wareing, who heads the new Basra Development Commission, acknowledged that there would be concerns among Iraqis about multinationals exploiting natural resources.

Basra, where 4 000 British troops are based, has been described as “the lung” of Iraq by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. The region accounts for 90% of government revenue and 70% of Iraq’s proven oil reserves. It has access to the Persian Gulf and is potentially one of the richest areas in the Middle East, but continues to be plagued by rival militias.

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