Iraq parliament to discuss oil law early in October.

The passage of the law is about a year late. Even if the parliament starts to discuss the law it may not pass for some time. Interesting that the exact wording of the law and annexes remains to be released.

Iraq parliament to discuss key oil law
Thu Sep 20, 2007 2:17pm BST
By Mariam Karouny

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Iraq's parliament should start in early October to debate an oil law, needed to regulate how wealth from world's third largest oil reserves will be shared by its sectarian and ethnic groups, the deputy speaker said.

Khaled al-Attiya said the parliament would take its time to discuss the draft, which is seen as key to reconciling warring Iraqis and attracting foreign investment. But he expected it to pass before the end of the year.

The legislation, which had been expected to pass before the end of 2006, was delayed due to disagreements over control of oil reserves, much of which are in the semi-autonomous Kurdistan region in northern Iraq and in the country's south.

The draft was approved by the cabinet in February but faced opposition from the Kurds, who felt they were getting a bad deal.

In July, the cabinet approved "some linguistic changes" to February's draft.

Attiya, a senior member in the ruling Shi'ite Alliance, told Reuters late on Wednesday there has been an agreement between the powerful Shi'ite Alliance and the Kurdish coalition to go with the draft approved by the cabinet in February.

"That helped in putting the law on schedule (for debate). Possibly in early October," he said.

He said the law should be debated fully, not decided by some back-room deal.

"This law is not like any other law. This is a strategic law," he said.

"So it is only right that we give this law all the time it deserves in discussions in the parliament and not to have a political deal about it among the political blocs behind closed doors."

But he said: "I do not think that the time will extend beyond the end of the second legislative quarter ... from now until before the end of the year."

Deputy Prime Minister Barham Salih said that there has been a basic agreement between Shi'ite Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) that the draft passed in February stands.

"The prime minister and KRG remain committed to the text voted on unanimously, including the Accordance (Sunni Arabs) ministers in February," Salih said.

The Kurds had previously said some of the annexes were unconstitutional because they wrested oilfields from regional governments and placed them under a new state oil company.

The annexes also covered control over discovered and undiscovered oilfields and who would have the power to negotiate contracts with international oil companies.

February's draft refers to annexes but they were neither discussed nor voted on then.

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