COMMENTS: Oil War, Water Fight

The news from Iraq came from its Ministry of Oil. In a program to modernize six major oilfields, the ministry has advertised for bids from multinational energy conglomerates for the first time since the sector was nationalized in 1972. NBC's Richard Engel covered the story from the commodity trading floors on Wall Street. CBS' Elizabeth Palmer sat down with Minister Hussein al-Shahristani in Baghdad. "What kind of pressure have you been under from the United States?" "This may surprise you and your audience, but I would say very clear to it. None." NBC's Engel noted that the oilfield contracts may or may not include foreign rights to drill on Iraqi territory. Nevertheless, the mere prospect of US involvement "only reinforces the impression that the United States went to war for oil."

CBS' Kelly Cobiella got access to a previously top secret compound deep in the Rocky Mountains where Shell Oil is testing a "revolutionary approach" for extracting crude oil and natural gas from the massive underground shale deposits in Colorado, Wyoming and Utah. Shell's technique involves heating the shale to 650F with subterranean electric probes, at which point the oil liquefies and becomes pumpable. Cobiella listed three remaining problems. How to insulate the rock so it does not heat groundwater as well? How to generate the electricity to provide the heat? How to find the water the process requires? She quoted the local maxim: "You talk over whiskey. You fight over water."


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