Dick Cheney’s old company, Halliburton, was granted the contract to put out oil well fires in Iraq without a bidding process, and needless to say, this is being viewed with a skeptical eye in the media. That doesn’t make much sense to me. First of all, Dick Cheney was brought in to Halliburton because it relied so much on government business, not because they wanted to break into that market. Secondly, there is no company in the world more qualified to handle the oilfield problems than Halliburton. Thirdly, these fires need to be put out as soon as possible, every delay increases the danger of more fires and more pollution, and of more damage to Iraq’s oil production infrastructure. Going through a bidding process for this sort of work would be silly, because it’s almost guaranteed that Halliburton would win the business anyway. They were extremely effective in the aftermath of the Gulf War in getting the hundreds of oil well fires that the Iraqis lit under control, and it makes sense to give them the business. I’m all for slagging the Bush administration but remember that correlation does not imply causation.

By the way, if you’re interested in how putting out oil well fires works, check out this animation courtesy of Wild Well Control. They also have some intersting oil well blowout pictures, if you’re into that sort of thing.