By PAULINE JELINEK, Associated Press Writer1 hour, 46 minutes ago
Iraq's most important moneymaker — its oil industry — lost $16 billion in two years to insurgent attacks, criminals and bad equipment, a secret U.S. audit says.
The Baghdad government "must take bold action" to protect its oil and electrical facilities, concludes an unclassified summary of the classified audit.
"Iraq cannot prosper without uninterrupted export of oil and the reliable delivery of electricity," Stuart W. Bowen, Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, said in the summary released Thursday.
In addition to the estimated $16 billion export revenue lost between January 2004 and March 2006, Bowen said Iraq also is paying billions of dollar to import refined petroleum products it needs.
The United States has invested some $320.3 million to train and equip several security forces. And it has developed an array of plans to help the three Iraq ministries that share responsibility — Ministry of Defense, Ministry of Oil and Ministry of Electricity.
But Baghdad didn't have a permanent government in place until recently and some ministries showed "limited initiative," leaving Iraq with "much to do" to put the U.S. plans into action, the summary said.
Bowen said that even if attacks ceased, criminal activity and aging and poorly maintained infrastructure would still hamper oil exports and electricity production.