19 October, 2020

Sky Is Black

More than fears over oil well fires, this time US V-P Cheney's links to firms tendered to put them out could raise a blaze

Sky Is Black
One of the most enduring images of the 1990-91 Gulf War was of burning oil wells in Kuwait—plumes of smoke blackening the sky by day and pillars of flame lighting the desert by night. Twelve years later, as coalition forces drive into Iraq itself, the images are remarkably different in comparison. With most of the country's southern oilfields falling to the US army in the initial days of the war, only a clutch of well-heads have been fired by the retreating Iraqis. Of the seven burning wells—out of Iraq's 1,685—one fire has already been extinguished by a team of experts from neighbouring Kuwait. In the north of Iraq, where its other major deposits lie, no fires were reported in the first week of the war. Indeed, oil was still flowing along the pipeline from the city of Kirkuk to the Turkish port of Yumurtalik even after the coalition forces launched their invasion. But with US paratroopers in the region, and clashes intensifying, the situation could change rapidly. Though oil was still being pumped out of Iraq, banks were reportedly refusing to give letters of...


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