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Iraq Kurdistan region says will try to block oil law
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Iraq Kurdistan region says will try to block oil
Iraq's Kurdistan region said it would try to block a
draft oil law in parliament.
April 30, 2007
Iraq's Kurdistan region on Sunday said it would try
to block a draft oil law in parliament, raising the
stakes in a row with the central government over
control of the world's third largest oil reserves.
The Kurdistan autonomous region appears to be on a
collision course with Baghdad over the U.S. -backed
draft law at a time when Iraq is engulfed by
The threat to fight the bill in Iraq's national
parliament comes just days after the Oil Ministry in
Baghdad warned regions against signing contracts
until the landmark law was passed.
"These annexes are unconstitutional and will not be
supported by the Kurdish regional government in the
federal parliament," Ashti Hawrami, minister of
natural resources in Kurdistan, told Reuters in a
statement in response to questions.
Hawrami was referring to annexes that he has said
would wrest oilfields from regional governments and
place them under a new state-oil company.
The draft, which Washington sees as a key step
toward reconciling Iraq's warring communities, is
vital to securing foreign investment to boost oil
output and rebuild its economy.
But officials from Iraq's central government and
Kurdistan have clashed over the annexes, raising the
prospect of more delays that dogged the lengthy
drafting of the legislation.
It was unclear if Hawrami was speaking on behalf of
the coalition of Kurdish political parties in Iraq's
national parliament that holds 53 seats in the
The draft oil law, approved by the cabinet in
February, would pass with a simple majority.
Hawrami on Sunday repeated a threat that his
oil-rich region would implement its own oil laws if
no agreement was reached on the dispute over the
annexes. Kurdish officials have already signed deals
with foreign oil companies.
"The annexes must recognise that the Kurdish
regional government has already allocated
exploration and development blocks in the Kurdistan
region under Production Sharing Agreements pursuant
to the Iraq Constitution," he said.
CENTRALISED OIL POWER
In a reference to Saddam Hussein, blamed for killing
tens of thousands of ethnic Kurds during a
scorched-earth campaign in the 1980s, Hawrami said
the newly created Iraq National Oil Company (INOC)
would be a return to "old regime methods".
"The concentration of power in the hands of INOC
will represent a return to method of petroleum
management of previous Iraqi regimes, where
centralised oil power was ... used to fund violent
campaigns by elites against neighbouring countries
and against our own Iraqi citizens," he said.
Officials from the central government and Kurdish
regional officials have said they would meet to iron
out the disputes, but Hawrami said sending a
delegation to Baghdad was "futile."
A U.S. government official in Baghdad said on Sunday
Washington was confident the law would pass.
"I think that the government is committed to getting
the oil law through. I know various bodies have
expressed concern about the hyrdrocarbon law given
the stakes involved," the official said. "The
government has a majority in parliament."
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