Iraq Parliament summons oil ministers

Dec. 6, 2007 at 6:21 PM
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WASHINGTON, Dec. 6 (UPI) -- Iraq's Parliament will hold what will surely be a contentious session on the country's oil sector, with the national and Kurdish oil ministers summoned.

Iraqi media reports confirmed what sources had previously told United Press International on condition of anonymity: the dispute between the Kurdistan Regional Government and the national government over KRG oil deals is striking a chord in Baghdad.

Oil Minister Hussain al-Shahristani and KRG Natural Resources Minister Ashti Hawrami have both been called to answer questions about the countries oil secotr, the Addustour newspaper reports.

Barham Salih, the country's deputy prime minister, a Kurd, the head of the cabinet's energy committee, will also attend the session. The date has not been announced.

The Badr newspaper reports the main topic will be the KRG's 20-some deals with foreign oil firms, which Baghdad has called illegal.

The Kurdistan Alliance is a key part of the ruling coalition government in Baghdad. Crossing the KRG on these deals, then, was considered unlikely considering such a power balance.

The Parliamentary hearing could be a change of heart by Shiite and Sunni Arab politicians, who blame the Kurds for stalling progress in the oil sector specifically and politics in general. The Kurds, likewise, return the blame.

They say the national oil law has been stuck for too long, thus prompting them to start signing deals.

The oil law has been stalled for more than a year of negotiations and political fighting over the extent of federal control over the oil sector, the rights to sign deals and exactly how much access foreign firms will have to the currently nationalized oil reserves of Iraq.


Ben Lando, UPI Energy Editor



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