Oilman Hunt Sees A ‘Soft Partition’ For Iraq

Billionaire oilman Ray Hunt has never talked much about an oil-exploration agreement his Hunt Oil Co. signed last year with the government of Iraq’s Kurdistan Region. Hunt, a close friend of President George W. Bush, is said to have ticked off officials in Washington and Baghdad when the company secretly negotiated the contract, which calls for exploration in the Dahuk region of the Kurdish-controlled north. But last night, as Hunt (pictured here) was being honored in Dallas by the Entrepreneurs Foundation of North Texas, he opened up about the agreement during a Q&A session before an admiring crowd. When someone asked him why he “gets up in the morning,” Hunt replied the reason is: “Being a catalyst.” A little later, he expounded on the controversial contract, the war on terror, and his vision for Iraq’s future.

The Kurdistan oil play is “going very well,” Hunt said. “The conventional wisdom has been that Iraq is a horrible place that doesn’t have its act together, and of course nobody likes to see death and destruction. But if anybody wanted to be a billionaire, I know how they could have done it. Turn back the clock to Sept. 12, the day after 9/11, and if you’d driven to Las Vegas–you couldn’t fly then–and taken six $100 bills into six of the gambling houses, and said, ‘What odds will you give me that there won’t be a terrorist event in the United States in the next seven years?’– today you’d be a billionaire. And, people have lost sight of that.

“But if you go to Iraq today, the violence is occurring in the southern portions, not in Kurdistan. It’s a different society. It’s been a very stable area. We looked at it, and considered that the conventional wisdom may be wrong. The Kurds are surrounded by enemies; they were the reason we had the no-fly zone in the north, because Saddam Hussein had massacred the Kurds. So we took the position, we saw that the native Kurds who had fled to Europe and the U.S. were moving back. The year before we went in, the price of real estate there increased 10-fold.

“I went to sign the contract myself. When I got to Kurdistan, there was no litter anywhere. They also have their version of the Texas Rangers there, who are able to keep the terrorists out of the area; they’re also helping push al-Qaida out of Mosul. So, we went in and negotiated the contracts we have. There were a number of legal things that were done just right. We’ve completed all the pre-work, and we’re ready to drill a well right now. Now other people are saying, ‘Maybe we should take a second look at this.’ So, our company in some small way might be causing other companies to take a second look at a part of Iraq.

“I think that, in the end, you’ll end up with a soft partition of Iraq, a very decentralized government, with authority granted to three provinces. The Kurds I think will end up being an example, especially with the Internet–you can’t hold back the flow of information–and people will say, “This is happening in Kurdistan; we want it to happen in Iraq [as a whole].” American democracy is not one-size-fits-all, but, as an example of what freedom can do, it’s remarkable that this can happen.

“And, I guess all that goes back to why I get up in the morning.”

Comments

  • Brett

    God, there is something so hot about a soft partition on a hunt.

    Wait. What?

  • Gwyon

    Freedom is on the march.

  • Tom

    Did he say anything about “drinking your milkshake?”

  • GMOM

    “Democracy is not one-size-fits-all” ? go tell that to the dumb asses in the WHITE HOUSE. Oh wait, Hunt probably did, that’s why he’s drilling there!! WOW

  • Typical White Person

    I doubt very seriously if the people of Iraq will loose sight of the damage done to their country by the Bush/Hunt war. For this reason, I don’t understand why there is not a huge outcry over the SMU Bush Book Store. Isn’t enough that he is putting our entire city in danger by moving here?

    The only partition I am interested in is one that divides his home from mine and a sign on my roof that says HE LIVES THAT WAY.

  • Puddin’Tane

    “We have blankets and whiskey for your furs.”

    We’ve heard this one before.

  • Jennifer Warren

    I think the point missed here is that if Iraqis or the Kurds are to move forward into some form of democracy or civil society, they need development. And regardless of how it came about, whether one takes a cynical view or not of Hunt, he is doing something gutsy and smart. He could get burned, but is taking the risk as entrepreneurs do. Offering that region some opportunities helps create a buffer to future terrorist activity. That is constructive.

  • Typical White Person

    Yes, after destroying an entire nation, forcing millions to flee, raping and killing innocent children…and then Hunt comes in to clean up the mess he helped to create. Constructive? Yeah, for a huge sum of $$$$
    It is not a cynical view. It is a fact. The Iraqis see us, the United States of America as the terrorist.

    It is like burning down someone’s home and then offering to help rebuild it for a price.

  • Gwyon

    TWP, and then living in the house with them.

  • Billusa99

    Uh, Uncle Ray… when you say “‘What odds will you give me that there won’t be a terrorist event in the United States in the next seven years?’— today you’d be a billionaire. And, people have lost sight of that.” I guess that you must be taking lessons from your BFF Bush, because I guess you forgot about the MULTIPLE Anthrax mail attacks.

    What? You lost sight of that? Dumbass…

  • Jennifer Warren

    The war, its impetus, and its destructiveness is a whole ‘nother subject. I still think, post-war, you have to move things forward, because, indeed, that country is in dire need. I think it’s a basic human desire to live a productive life. That’s what I’m talkin about, nothing more or less.

  • Typical White Person

    Jennifer

    With all due respect, the war is not a “whole ‘nother subject” to those family members of the dead. It is THE ENTIRE SUBJECT. How much more proof do you need to see that Bush/Cheney lead us into an war for no other reason than oil? How many reports will it take for you to believe this war is a farce? Yes, the country is in dire need..but not in need OF us but BECAUSE of us. So now we have a war criminal moving into our city and we are celebrating this by building a shrine to him at SMU. This will be a stain on our city forever.

    How much more damage will people allow this man to do? What else will America allow him to destroy in the name of oil?

  • Dallas is a hell hole

    The Iraqis see us, the United States of America as the terrorist.

    Sounds like they have a lot in common with Democrats.

  • Poco Ritard

    Gee Ray, how much you got budgeted to pay off the Turks for ignoring it when the PKK blow stuff up in Ankara & the local pols start openly calling it an “independent Kurdish republic?” They’re gonna roll in there and burn the place down. That makes for a lot of litter in the streets, eh? But you don’t care. You don’t care how screwed up that society is, how dangerous or complicated their situation, or what consequences your pursuit of profits will ultimately have on their lives. Oh right, I forgot. The market always creates the best outcome! God want’s you to get rich. So you’ll negotiate with whoever controls the fields.

    Enjoy your milkshake, vampire.