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Inner City Press: Iraq's Oil to be Metered by Shell, While Basrah Project Remains Less than Clear

BYLINE: Matthew Russell Lee, Inner City Press U.N. Correspondent
UNITED NATIONS, March 30 — From Iraq's Mission to the UN, there's finally an answer to the months-old oil metering mystery. Shell has been given the contract, and it will take from one to two years to implement. How the accountability of oil flows and sales until then will be tracked has not yet been addressed, nor has why it will take two years. For an oil port in Basrah, the process will be faster, but it remains unclear which company has been awarded the work. This follows a December 2005 statement by the International Advisory and Monitoring Board for the Development Fund for Iraq that the oil metering contract had been awarded to an American firm, followed by a January 2006 IAMB statement that nothing was being done. Now named are a Dutch-based company and a “project” agreed to by the U.S. Pentagon's Project and Contracting Office, recently in the news for its dealing with Halliburton. Inner City Press has put written questions to both IAMB and Iraq's Mission to the United Nations and will report results on this site.
— Jean-Pierre Halbwachs briefing reporters on 12/28/05
In a March 22 letter provided to Inner City Press on March 30, the UN's Jean-Pierre Halbwachs was informed that – “the Iraqi Ministry of Oil has concluded an agreement with the American Project and Contracting Office (PCO) to include a project for rebuilding the metering system in the Basrah oil port of the Southern Oil State Company, as part of the other projects that are funded by the American grant to the Iraqi Ministry of Oil. This project is in progress now and is expected to be finalized by 2006. Furthermore, a preliminary agreement was reached with the Shell Group to act as a consultant to the Iraqi Ministry of Oil on matters related to metering and calibrating which would include the establishment of a measuring system for the flow of oil, gas and related products within Iraq, as well as the export and import operations. This long-term development project will be implemented in stages that may be fulfilled in one or two years.”
The term in the letter, “Southern Oil State Company,” does not result in any hits either via the Google search engine nor (Academic) Lexis. The letter is signed by Iraq's Alternate Permanent Representative to the UN Feisal Amin Al-Istrabadi, described as “an American lawyer of Iraqi origin.” Click here for his curriculum vitae, via Depaul's law school — his legal practice has been in Indiana, although the c.v. refers to hazardous chemical spills and Petroleum Marketing Marketing Act cases. Inner City Press has put written questions — for the second time — to the Iraqi mission's listed press attaché, including:
“For this [Basrah] project, to be completed by the end of this year, has a contractor been designated? PCO was in the news earlier this week with regard to their audits of Halliburton's performance (as well as Foster-Wheeler). Direct question: does the above quoted mean that Halliburton has gotten or could get this 'included' project? Secondarily, why does the nationwide oil metering contract described in the second paragraph of the letter need to take two years? And what will be done in the interim?”
The same questions have been put to the chair of IAMB, the UN's Jean-Pierre Halbwachs. Watch this space.
UN Round-up: upstairs at the UN headquarters on Thursday, Secretary-General Annan met at noon with the chairman of Turkey's Koc Holdings which holds, among other things, a joint venture with Shell and 87,000 employees, on the occasion of Koc Holdings joining the UN Global Compact. At the noon briefing, it was asked how it is decided which of the Global Compact's signatories get to meet with the Secretary-General, and whether these companies — including Koc Holdings — might take questions from the press on their adherence to the Compact's principles, including human rights, perhaps at a new Corporate Stake-Out. These questions were answered in far less than three months:
From: [ ]@un.org>
To: Matthew.Lee [at] innercitypress.com
Sent: Thu, 30 Mar 2006 14:13:44 -0500
Subject: your questions on the Global Compact
Hardly ever does the SG meet with CEOs when they sign up. Mr. Koc was one of the rare exceptions because of the significance of the company's commitment to the country as a whole (Turkey) and the broader region. Also, Koc has deep partnership relations with UN agencies in the areas of health and education. Regarding your suggestion that the CEOs signing on to the Global Compact (GC) be made available to the press… the GC’s media guy, wrote the following to me: 'I like the suggestion, but as always in these cases, I guess this is ultimately up to the CEO. I would be very open to suggest it in advance of future CEO-SG meetings. However, our experience is that these CEOs are very tightly guarded by an army of PR staff who would probably advise against it. Nevertheless, I will be more than happy to connect interested journalists with the public affairs people of the CEO prior to future meetings of this type.' If you’re still interested in talking to Mr. Koc, it's Ms. Ayse Tuba Kadiraga, Public Relations Specialist, Koç Holding A.S…. Tuba will be traveling back to Istanbul this afternoon, but can be reached tomorrow.”
To tie it all together for now, including Shell getting the oil metering contract in Iraq, Koc Holdings' oil refinery joint venture with Shell is being challenged to the EU Court of Human Rights by the union Petrol-Is. What is Koc Holdings (and Shell's and even the SG's and Global Compact's) positions on this? Questions, questions…

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