UPDATE: from reporter Mike Saccone’s interview with Schaffer on Kurdish oil contracts:
An oil contract Republican U.S. Senate candidate Bob Schaffer helped negotiate in Iraqi Kurdistan is one of several production deals the U.S. State Department has flagged as problematic for Iraq and its attempts to establish a national oil policy.
The oil contract, finalized in November 2007, allows a subsidiary of Schaffer’s former employer, Denver-based Aspect Energy, to produce oil on a nearly 104-square-mile plot in the Dohuk Governate in northern Iraq.
Schaffer confirmed Wednesday he was one of several Aspect Energy executives who visited Kurdistan in November 2006 and laid the groundwork for the company’s oil deal with the Kurds…
According to a June 23 report from the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office, Aspect Energy’s oil contract and roughly two dozen other similar deals have proven a point of contention between Iraq and the Kurdistan Regional Government.
“The (Kurdistan Regional Government) has negotiated an estimated 25 contracts with foreign oil firms, which the Iraqi federal government claims are illegal,” according to the report.
Schaffer said he was unaware the State Department had warned energy firms not to strike oil deals with the Kurdistan Regional Government at the time of his visit…
John Fleming, a spokesman with the State Department’s Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs, said the U.S. government has always asked that energy firms conduct business with Iraq’s federal government and not other entities in the country. [Pols emphasis]
“Our policy is to support the national government and its efforts to have national hydrocarbon legislation,” Fleming said.
Documents the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform released earlier this month show the U.S. government’s policy on discouraging regional oil deals predated the finalization of Aspect Energy’s contract with the Kurds.
As we discussed late last week, this is another potentially devastating situation for Schaffer, possibly worse than the Abramoff/Marianas scandal–which polls show has already seriously damaged his election prospects. The finalization of an Iraqi petroleum law is viewed by most experts as critical to the stabilization of Iraq, and the story emerging here is about American oil companies–like Schaffer’s–who were more concerned with getting ‘a piece of the action’ than they were with supporting American foreign policy goals in Iraq.
Is there even another former Congressman out there who voted to invade Iraq, then immediately went to work for an oil company pursuing contracts there? We’re not aware of any. That’s bad enough, but the idea that the contracts he pursued could be prolonging the Iraq war instead of helping end it?