By Tony Murphy
Published Apr 5, 2011 9:01 PM
As quickly as the imperialists have launched a war against Libya, anti-war demonstrations have sprung up everywhere. Many signs and slogans mention oil: “No blood for oil” or “Not another war for oil.”
Maybe this focus on oil is just leftist dogma. How much oil does Libya contribute to the global market anyway, compared to countries like Saudi Arabia? And hasn’t Libya already opened its oil fields to capitalist exploitation?
Yes, it has. But because Gadhafi’s government insists on having a say in this process, the capitalists are still not satisfied. It’s not about the flow of oil, but the flow of profits.
“[O]fficial estimates say Libya can produce oil for $1 a barrel,” reported the Wall Street website Energy and Capital in 2008. “At $110 on the world market, the simple math gives Libya a $109 profit margin.”
Investors who want to make a “killing” in the energy market read Energy and Capital. On March 22, its article entitled “The Japan buying opportunity” included the statement: “There’s a reason the phrase ‘Buy when there’s blood in the streets’ is common among advanced investors.”
It’s true the “advanced investors” in countries like the U.S., Britain, Canada, Spain, Italy and France — all members of the original “coalition of the willing” that spearheaded the bombing of Libya — are already profiting from Libya’s “Tripoli tea.”
But in the Libyan market not yet a decade old, their governments are in intense competition with each other. None of them can afford to be outmaneuvered in a country that has vast, undeveloped oil resources.
And for this moment they have banded together in a thieves’ pact to confront their common problem in Libya: the intense struggle that exists between Gadhafi’s government and oil companies over how much profit they get — and whether they will be able to continue getting it at all.
Workers World has already reported, based on recently released WikiLeaks cables, that Gadhafi was recently able to force French oil company Total to share about 20 percent more of its profit from Libyan oil fields with Libya.
Other cables name Italy’s ENI, Petro-Canada and two consortiums led respectively by U.S. Occidental and Spain’s Repsol as losing $5.4 billion from renegotiated production contracts.
Still other cables show that Libya exercised the right to revoke drilling rights if the oil companies’ home governments engaged in the demonization of Gadhafi, which has since reached epic proportions.
Libya almost nationalized Petro-Canada’s operations in 2009, when Canadian politicians attacked Libya over that country’s welcome home of alleged Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset al-Megrahi.
Gadhafi held off carrying out that threat, but issued an order forcing Petro-Canada and its operator, Libya’s Hrouj company, to cut production by 50 percent.
This is Gadhafi’s true crime in the eyes of the imperialists — not his treatment of “his own people.” When capitalists dream of profits from highly lucrative resources like oil and natural gas, they dream of governments who simply let them have their way.
The servants of the “advanced investors” hope they can use the revolutionary rising of the Arab masses as a cover for regime change and install a compliant puppet government like they did in Iraq.
In a worsening worldwide economic crisis, that dream has become a compelling necessity for capitalists who must constantly expand. Take it from the Energy and Capital website in its Libya report: “We’re in the middle of a monumental energy and commodity bull market as other assets wobble on credit concerns and raw materials seem to give us the only real and true equity left in the world.”
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