Groundhog day

While looking back at whether Iraq was “all about oil“, I thought it might be a good idea to check on the US reconstruction program, and found the State Department report for April 2007. The lead items are electricity generating capacity and oil output, which used to be followed eagerly by those in the blogosphere arguing that the MSM were ignoring “Good News from Iraq”. As Tim Lambert and Jim Henley pointed out a couple of years ago, the same good news kept getting announced over and over again, but the prewar levels (average electricity output of 4300 MW, availability of 11 hours per day, oil output 2.5 million barrels per day (MBPD)) were never surpassed.

We don’t hear quite so much about good news from Iraq these days. The original good news blogger Arthur Chrenkoff shut up shop a while ago. Winds of Change picked up the baton, but seems to have given up. Google finds this site with three entries this year, none containing any actual good news, and this quasi-official site, apparently produced by the Defense Department, and mainly reproducing press releases. It’s not clear whether press releases containing bad news are excluded or whether no such releases are issued.

So, I’ll pick up the ball and summarise the news in the State Department’s report. At this stage, 99 per cent of the US money has been committed, and 87 per cent has been spent, so there’s no more where that came from. Adding “new”, “restored” and “maintained” generating capacity, we get a total of 4373MW, which, assuming 80 per cent uptime, would correspond to average output of around 3500MW. Oil shows a capacity of 2.7MBPD and output of 1.9MBPD. (Table is over the fold). Then there’s the usual schools and hospitals, but these days both schools and hospitals in Iraq are very dangerous places to attend.


Progress to March 30, 2007


ʉۢ 2,120 MW new and restored generating capacity

ʉۢ 2,253 MW generating capacity maintained

ʉۢ Improved electricity distribution to 372,000 homes

ʉۢ Nationwide Hours of Power: 11

ʉۢ Baghdad Hours of Power: 6


ʉۢ 2.68 million barrels per day (MBPD) crude oil production capacity

ʉۢ 1.92 MBPD actual crude oil production

ʉۢ LPG production capacity of 1,700 tons per day

ʉۢ 1,400 tons per day actual LPG production

Water & Sewer

ʉۢ 1.67 million cubic meters per day additional water treatment capacity

ʉۢ Benefiting an estimated 5.4 million Iraqis


ʉۢ 15 hospitals rehabilitation projects completed

ʉۢ 12 Primary Healthcare Centers completed

ʉۢ 123 Primary Healthcare Centers under contract.


ʉۢ 809 IRRF-funded schools providing classrooms for 323,000 students

Security & Justice

ʉۢ 3 training academy projects

ʉۢ 92 fire station projects

ʉۢ 255 border forts

Transportation & Communications

ʉۢ 36 village road projects

ʉۢ 95 railway station renovations

ʉۢ 14 aviation projects

ʉۢ 19 functioning berths at Port of Umm Qasr

 â€¢ “911” emergency dispatch system covering 12 million Iraqis in 15 cities

Of the $20.9 billion IRRF originally appropriated, 99 percent is obligated. As of March 31, $17.5 billion, or 87 percent, has been disbursed in payments for completed work.

8 thoughts on “Groundhog day

  1. Reading this blog shows how little information is provided to the Australian public about what is actually happening in Iraq as opposed to the rhetoric of providing democracy. Thanks Prof Q.

    It is a poor kind of democracy which delivers more fear, death and destruction than a dictatorial regime. The Neocons have a lot to answer for.

    Children who attend school are terrified or minorities are more in danger of being killed if they attend hospital than not.

    Who owns the oil and where is the money for the oil going?

    As long as we have the same unimaginative leadership who seem destined to repeat poor decisions it is a depressing scenario. Ground hog day indeed.

  2. The Table is a classic in contemporary bullet-point PR-communications of statistics. Given the adjectives and the lack of a base data and date, the Table contains messages but no useful information. The author(s) of the Table leave it up to the imagination of the reader to read into it whatever they like.

  3. I agree with Ernstine — you need baseline level of growth, the total number, and the number destroyed to make sense of the table. For all I know, for instance, 95 railway station renovations is a lot and they are doing a wonderful job (how many railway station were renovated in Australia in that time?).

  4. you can make some sense of the table by reflecting on the evidence that a war has passed by,is not over, and shows no signs of achieving any annunciated goals of the invading/occupying power.

    i don’t, however, characterize the invasion/occupation as a failure. recent coy admissions that occupation of the iraqi oil fields might have had some persuasive power when america was choosing it’s next candidate for democratization mean that this operation may yet be a success.

    not for the iraqis of course.

  5. The recent comment by Brendan Nelson on the relevance of oil to the Iraq invasion and occupation, his hasty retraction and the denials by Rodent and Costello seem rather like an exercise in “run it up the flagpole and see if anybody salutes”. Maybe we are being sounded out as to whether we would support the Iraq invasion if we were frankly told that the purpose of the exercise is to plunder Iraqi oil.

    If this is so, we should be clear about the price and the quantity – we will offer so much military for so much oil at such-and-such a price. To offer open-ended support for the continuing occupation of Iraq without clear guarantees of price and quantity of oil we get as payoff would be a policy shift from stupid to stupider.

  6. oooh, i do love tough, no-nonsense, realpolitik talk! i imagine ‘enter the valkyries’ in surround sound and max volume, and feel really, really excited. for a while.

    get in touch with howard, gordon. suburban solicitor-weasels never sound right, maybe you could do voice-over while he waves at the troops going to lower the price of petrol at ozzie bowsers.

    except, as violence increases in the middle east, oil price rises too. strange..

  7. Oil production 2.5 million barrels per day (taking the top figure) sold at, say, 40 dollars per barrel for 356 days equals 36.5 billion dollars US. So if the works programme was a total of 20 billion dollars over how many years?…the Iraquis may be being short changed, considering that there is no inclusion for general local taxation in that questionable look. And Americans may feel that the 450 billion dollars that they have spent helping the Iraquis is showing a very poor return of results, considering the local labour rates, that is.

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