Iraqi official touts new oil law in India

The official is certainly jumping the gun since the oil law is not likely to pass for some time unless disagreements between different interested parties can be worked out.

Iraq pushing oil, law in India
Posted : Wed, 23 May 2007 22:26:01GMT
Author : Energy News Editor
Category : Energy (Environment)

NEW DELHI, May 23 A top Iraqi oil official touted the upcoming auction of oil and gas, once the hydrocarbons law is passed, and is courting potential refinery deals.

"Iraq is preparing 15 fields and blocks for first round of auction after approval of the oil and gas law ... tenders are under preparation," Fayadh Hassan Nima, director general at Iraq ' s Oil Ministry, said during a visit to New Delhi. Gulf News reports Nima wants Indian companies to build two of the planned four refineries in Iraq, aimed at increasing capacity for oil products and turning around a growing shortage of transportation, cooking and heating fuels.

Iraq, which has had a nationalized oil system, is moving toward opening up its sector to foreign companies. They, however, must wait until the government passes a law governing the 115 billion barrels of proven reserves, the third-largest in the world.

But opponents of the bill vary in opinion, though not in strength: Kurds say it isn't allowing enough of the oil to be open to the free market and want more regional control and a better mechanism for redistributing oil revenue. Sunnis and most Shiites want stronger central control. The oil unions are threatening to strike if foreign companies are given too much access. And last month more than 60 Iraqi oil experts wrote a letter to Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki urging the government to wait until the security situation improves and constitutional issues are resolved.

A self-imposed late May deadline to pass the bill is likely to be missed. Nima said the bill won't be completed for another "two to three months." Meanwhile the Bush administration is leaning hard on Iraq to make progress on the law so it can use it as a sign of progress in the country.

Copyright 2007 by UPI


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