4 October 2003
These fuelish things
In days of old when knights were bold and blogging not invented, people would speak of carrying coals to Newcastle, a task not exactly Sisyphean but not particularly useful, either, since Newcastle-upon-Tyne, at least at the time, was up to its presumably-dusty lungs in coal.
Were it not for its war-ravaged infrastructure, shipping oil to Iraq might be considered similarly useless, but until production resumes on something resembling a reasonable scale, petroleum will have to be imported, and Dick Cheney's old friends at Halliburton have drawn this assignment.
And forget about conservation measures: they're regarded with even more suspicion in Baghdad than they are in Amarillo. Cut-rate gas, courtesy of the Oil Ministry, is a tradition that Iraqis aren't anxious to give up. The Coalition Provisional Authority says, perhaps optimistically, that oil production in Iraq will reach three million barrels per day, close to pre-Gulf War levels, by next summer. In the meantime, you and I will contribute a few cents to somebody's Friday drive in the desert.