People & Power talks to experts on the ongoing
oil crisis

The continuing global oil crisis explained like never before.

Barbara Serra's guests are Fatih Birol, the chief economist and head of the Economic Analysis Division of the International Energy Agency who used to work in the Secretariat of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), Irina Kobrinskaya, a political analyst from the Institute of World Economy and International Relations, and Dr Ramli, the director of the Indonesian think-tank Econit.

Whose oil is it anyway?

People & Power goes behind closed doors of meetings between the Iraqi oil ministry, politicians, oil experts and the multinationals about the controversial Iraqi oil law.

This is the law which will establish foreign control over most of the country's desperately needed oil reserves. But in spite of a determined PR campaign aimed at the oil industry's decision makers it remains stuck - stuck in a quagmire of political wrangling and opposition from trade unions and two thirds of the Iraqi people. 

The world's producers are being urged by national leaders to pump more oil to ease soaring petrol prices. So the pressure is on to access Iraq's vast unexploited reserves. 

But does Iraq need the foreign investment to be introduced by the new law? Does it need, in return for this investment, to mortgage its future to western companies - as many experts are putting it? Is this the cynical, immoral theft of the peoples' heritage - the one valuable asset they have - presided over by the US and British governments? And will the arrival of sudden huge money in the provinces so weaken the central government and enrich local governors and militias that the disastrous ripping up of the country will result? Defenders of the law claim that, on the contrary, it will unite the country. 

And does the US have a bigger, more far-reaching strategy linked to the passing of this oil law and to the treaty currently being negotiated enabling continued US troop presence after the expiry of the UN mandate at the end of this year? The oil law's critics claim it is linked to a planned political re-construction of Iraq. 

This episode of People & Power aired from Sunday, June 15, 2008 at the following times GMT:
Sunday: 1430
Monday: 0130, 1330
Tuesday: 0630, 2030
Wednesday: 0300

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