Oil talks resume in Iraq in June

May 30, 2008 at 4:57 PM
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ERBIL, Iraq, May 30 (UPI) -- The Iraqi central and Kurdistan regional governments will resume negotiations over the oil law and key issues in early June.

Other topics include the disputed territories in the north.

Falah Mustafa Bakir, the head of the Kurdistan Regional Government's Department of Foreign Relations, told United Press International "there is better understanding" after Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki launched the incursion into Basra and the Kurdish leadership backed him.

"It created a positive atmosphere in Baghdad," he said.

KRG Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani and Maliki will meet, as will their respective delegations, including KRG Natural Resources Minister Ashti Hawrami and Iraqi Oil Minister Hussain al-Shahristani.

The two energy ministers have butted heads over the KRG's signing its own exploration and production deals with foreign companies and a dispute as to what the oil law should look like.

"The KRG is determined to go ahead and contribute positively in order to have a hydrocarbon law, based on our belief that the private sector and foreign investment can be a good impetus and good incentive to enhance the economy," Bakir said. "We believe that our approach, which is a free market oriented, market economy approach, would help Iraq at this stage."

Many outside the semiautonomous Kurdish region favor to some extent the continuation of a more centralized and nationalized oil sector.

Bakir said the two prime ministers agreed that the February 2007 draft of the oil law would be under negotiation, and that all of the oil-related laws and issues would be sent to Parliament as a package. These are the hydrocarbons law, the revenue sharing law, the laws re-establishing the Iraq National Oil Co. and reorganizing the Ministry of Oil, and a list of oil fields and exploration blocks that determine whether they are controlled by the central or local governments.


Ben Lando, UPI Energy Editor

(e-mail: blando@upi.com)

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