The oil companies and Iraq

An article by Andrew E. Kramer appearing on the website of the New York Times last night reports on the awarding of no-bid contracts to Exxon-Mobil, Shell, Total, BP, and Chevron.
The no-bid contracts are unusual for the industry, and the offers prevailed over others by more than 40 companies, including companies in Russia, China and India.
While the contracts are not large, they are considered important by industry analysts for establishing position with respect to a series of lucrative new contracts which are expected to open up soon.
“The bigger prize everybody is waiting for is development of the giant new fields,” Leila Benali, an authority on Middle East oil at Cambridge Energy Research Associates, said in a telephone interview from the firm’s Paris office. The current contracts, she said, are a “foothold” in Iraq for companies striving for these longer-term deals.
One question: since the oil companies are obviously benefiting from the American occupation of Iraq, when are they going to start paying some of the war's costs?

Last day in Morningside Heights

June 13, 2008
I'm leaving New York tomorrow, unfortunately. Don't get me wrong--I'm looking forward to spending the next two weeks in Rhode Island. But at the same time, I already feel nostalgic for the year that is coming to an end tomorrow.
When I received the Harriman fellowship last year, I originally told them that I could only do it for one semester. I'd already received the NEH-ARIT fellowship for seven months in Turkey, and decided to spend one semester in New York and then the second semester in Istanbul.