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General Returns: Jay Garner's Oil Prospects in Iraq

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Garner's Still Drilling with
Canadian Partners in Iraq
by Anthony Fenton

More than a year and a half after yours truly broke the story for Mother Jones, earlier this month the New York Times finally saw (Ret.) General Jay Garner's Iraqi oil profiteering 'fit to print.' Garner is mentioned along with Zalmay Khalilzad and Peter Galbraith as "among a growing list of former American diplomats and military officials now chasing business opportunities in the oil-rich Kurdish region or acting as advisers to its government."

Garner: "sits on the advisory board of Vast Exploration, a Calgary-based company prospecting for oil in an area of the region known as Qara Dagh, where drilling started in May. 
 
"On the seventh anniversary of Mr. Hussein’s fall, in April, General Garner flew to the Kurdish region on a chartered plane accompanied by oil analysts and executives. The visit included meetings with Kurdish leaders and a camping trip to Qara Dagh." 
 
[For complete article features, please see original at Web of Democracy here.]

The Times didn't mention that Garner is also an advisor to Forbes & Manhattan, the Toronto-based merchant bank headed by Stan Bharti that manages Vast Exploration. Thanks to Garner's Iraqi ties, another member of the F&M group of companies that won an oil block in the Kurdistan Region is Longford Energy. Both Bharti and Canada's former Foreign Minister Pierre Pettigrew, who sits on both the Vast and Longford boards of directors, accompanied Garner to the Kurdish region last April. 

It's worth mentioning that Vast shares the Qara Dagh block with the KRG and two other Canadian companies, Niko Resources and Groundstar Resources. In June, two Groundstar executives were penalized for insider trading "relating to a significant oil and gas production sharing contract involving Groundstar and Vast Exploration."

The same day that the Times article appeared, KRG President Massoud Barzani met with Canada's ambassador to Iraq, Margaret Huber, whereupon he "praised... efforts made by the Canadian ambassador to Iraq in developing relations with Kurdistan, expressing the region’s readiness to develop and expand these relations, according to a presidential statement." 

The next day, a fire consumed the Soma Hotel in the oil boom town of Sulaimaniyah. Eight employees of Alberta-based Terraseis, "one of the fastest growing providers of geophysical data acquisition services to international exploration and production companies in" Iraq, including one Canadian, were killed. At the time, they were working on a contract for Calgary-based Talisman Energy.

 

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