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1973 US ready to seize oilfields

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  • e3pi
    BBC front page this NewYear s. by Paul Reynolds BBC News Online world affairs correspondent Oilfields: Essential to world economy The United States considered
    Message 1 of 2 , Dec 31, 2003
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      BBC front page this NewYear's.


      by Paul Reynolds
      BBC News Online world affairs correspondent



      Oilfields: Essential to world economy
      The United States considered using force to seize oil fields in the
      Middle East during an oil embargo by Arab states in 1973, according
      to British government documents just made public.
      The papers, released under the 30-year-rule, show that the British
      government took the threat so seriously that it drew up a detailed
      assessment of what the Americans might do.

      It was thought that US airborne troops would seize the oil
      installations in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait and might even ask the
      British to do the same in Abu Dhabi.

      The episode shows how the security of oil supplies is always at the
      forefront of governments' planning.


      Warning from US

      The British assessment was made after a warning from the then US
      Defence Secretary James Schlesinger to the British Ambassador in
      Washington Lord Cromer.

      We estimate that the force required for the initial operation would
      be of the order of two brigades

      British estimate
      The ambassador quoted Mr Schlesinger as saying that "it was no longer
      obvious to him that the United States could not use force."

      The oil embargo was begun by Arab governments during the Yom Kippur
      or October war between Israel and Egypt and Syria, which left Israel
      in a strong position.

      It was designed to put pressure on the West to get Israel to make
      concessions. The embargo was aimed mainly at the United States but
      many other countries were affected.

      The Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC) assessment said that the
      seizure of the oil fields was "the possibility uppermost in American
      thinking when they refer to the use of force; it has been reflected,
      we believe, in their contingency planning."

      This phrase indicates some knowledge of American plans.

      Other possibilities, such as the replacement of Arab rulers by "more
      amenable" leaders or a show of force by "gunboat diplomacy", are
      rejected as unlikely.

      Airborne troops

      The JIC believed that military action would take the form of an
      airborne operation, possibly using bases in Greece, Turkey, Cyprus,
      Iran (then a US ally) or Israel.

      "We estimate that the force required for the initial operation would
      be of the order of two brigades, one for the Saudi operation, one for
      Kuwait and possibly a third for Abu Dhabi," it said.

      Two divisions would then be flown in but the report gives a warning
      that the occupation might have to last 10 years. It would also
      alienate the Arab world and provoke a confrontation with the Soviet
      Union, though the JIC did not think that Moscow would use military
      force itself.

      British role expected

      There was a potential task for the British. The report speculates,
      again perhaps with inside knowledge, that the US might want Britain
      to capture the Abu Dhabi oilfields as some British officers were
      seconded to the Abu Dhabi defence force.

      "For this reason, the Americans might ask the UK to undertake this
      particular operation," it says.

      The prospect of the British military fighting seconded British
      officers is not gone into.

      The assessment reflects on the danger of action by Iraq, whose vice
      president at the time was none other than Saddam Hussein.

      "The greatest risk of such confrontation in the Gulf would probably
      arise in Kuwait, where the Iraqis, with Soviet backing, might be
      tempted to intervene," it says.

      It is made clear that the invasion would probably only be
      contemplated if the situation in the region deteriorated to such an
      extent that the oil embargo went on for a long time, threatening
      western economies. This is called "the dark scenario."

      In a follow up, a Foreign Office official noted: "Lord Carrington
      [the defence secretary] has suggested that some discreet contingency
      planning be put in hand"

      In the event, there was no military action. The oil embargo faltered
      and was ended a few months later. Israel and Egypt went on to sign a
      peace agreement.


      http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/3333995.stm
    • blanchardrd
      Energyresources, I recently read that the Brutus field, in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico (GOM), was producing only 35,000 b/d. It was supposed to peak at 100,000 b/d
      Message 2 of 2 , Mar 7, 2004
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        Energyresources,

        I recently read that the Brutus field, in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico
        (GOM), was producing only 35,000 b/d. It was supposed to peak at
        100,000 b/d in 2002. Could someone give me a reference for the
        35,000 b/d figure. I think I may have seen it as a note in a recent
        issue of either World Oil or Oil & Gas Journal. I don't have either
        journal easily available to me.

        Roger Blanchard
        Sault Ste. Marie, MI
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