“In a pitch-dark hotel room in Basra some of Iraq’s biggest oil and diesel smugglers revealed their business dealings. They talked openly of secret transport routes and corrupt contacts with politicians. They gave us the answer to our question: what has happened to Iraqi oil?
We went to Iraq to see how the global hunt for the black gold has affected the Iraqi people. It is now widely acknowledged that oil was one of the reason to the 2003 invasion, but not many could have envisaged that it would take over six years to begin talking about the investments. Panic is now setting in. There have been no modernisations and Iraq is not producing more oil now than before the invasion. Instead, the oil has leaked through a sieve to the black market. Oil pirates and corrupt officials have become wealthy. Civilians have been hit the hardest. But how has the oil mafia managed to get its hands on Iraq’s black gold with the military just around the corner?
The only ones who know the answer are the Iraqi oil smugglers, who not only control parts of Iraq’s production but also impact the global oil trade. We decided to ask them. For two weeks they allowed us to follow their smuggling and gave us an insight into the ruthless and immensely wealthy world of contacts in the upper echelons of society. But we also met the oil and mafia victims; children and oil workers suffering from chronic cancer, mothers whose children have been killed by smugglers and children selling a few litres of petrol on the streets. In our meetings the reality was clear to see. All over the world people become extremely rich on the oil trade, but for the Iraqi people who walk above the black gold, oil is an eternal curse.”
– Pieter Ten Hoopen