PARIS, March 30 (UPI) -- Oil export contracts with the Kurdistan Regional Government in Iraq are in direct violation of the Iraqi Constitution, the oil minister said.
Hussain al-Shahristani spoke with London's Asharq al-Awsat newspaper on the Iraqi oil sector, saying his country would need roughly $50 billion in foreign investments for necessary improvements.
"We need an investment of $50 billion over the next five or six years. This money is not available locally," he said. "That is why we are going to the international oil companies -- all of which have expressed interest in investing in the Iraqi petroleum industry."
Iraq has opened up to several varying contract agreements with international oil companies, while the KRG has reached its own arrangements in its oil-rich region.
"These contracts are not binding on the Iraqi government, and no foreign company has the right to operate in Iraq on the basis of contracts that have not been approved by the government of Iraq," Shahristani said.
He opened the door, however, for a provision with the KRG to distribute oil revenue through central government coffers.
"We have reached an understanding to the effect that the revenue from the oil they produce goes to the central government in Baghdad, which in turn will distribute the revenue through the general state budget," the minister said.