Risky Business in Iraq

In Kurdistan companies from around 20 nations hold licenses including America's ExxonMobil, the UAE's Dana Gas and Turkish registered Genel Energy run by former BP man Tony Hayward.

Fortunes spent on exploration and production are half the story.  Some giants like Shell have paid out countless millions building roads, housing and schools and all have extensive training programmes for Iraqis.

And it was not only the hydrocarbons industry making a difference in Iraq.

Thanks to Herculean efforts by Western diplomats, governments departments like UK Trade and Investment (UKTI) and trade groups such as the Iraq Britain Business Council (IBBC) and Middle East Association (MEA) other major corporations took the brave step to dip their toes in Iraqi waters bringing with them sound and transparent trade practices.

PwC, Deloitte, Ernst and Young and Eversheds are among Western law firms and finance houses with offices in Iraq. Standard Chartered was the first British bank into Iraq and security firms such as Control Risks, Olive Group, Restrata and G4S are also well established.

If these companies pull out Iraq will still survive, of course.  And it has to be acknowledged remarkable Iraqi engineers kept the oil fields running for most of the Saddam years.

But Iraq's rebirth as of one of the richest and hopefully commercially transparent countries on the planet will have be set back for at least a generation.

John Cookson has been reporting from Iraq for 25 years for international news channels including Al Jazeera English and Sky News.  Twitter: @Newsman1000

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