Text size:

  • Small
  • Normal
  • Large

Iraqi minister defends oil deals

Iraq's oil minister has defended his plan to award long-term service contracts to foreign firms.

Iraq's oil minister has defended his plan to award long-term service contracts to foreign firms for the fields that pump most of the country's crude, saying Iraq urgently needs to boost output. "We have started to develop the oil-producing fields because it is faster and Iraq is in extreme need to increase its production," Dr Hussein al Shahristani told the country's parliament. "The undiscovered fields need time for drilling." He also said Iraq would earn 100 times more than the foreign companies it planned to hire, and that the country was due to earn US$1.7 billion (Dh5.37bn) over 20 years from the fields for which it was seeking development partners. The Iraqi government, led by the prime minister, Nouri al Maliki, has affirmed its plan to award the contracts later this month, despite protests from parliamentarians, the regional government of Iraqi Kurdistan and engineers at South Oil Company, the largest of Iraq's three state-owned oil companies. Dr al Shahristani was summoned before parliament yesterday to answer questions about the proposed contracts, to be awarded next week after Iraq's first post-war bidding round for oil licences. A group of parliamentarians has threatened to block the deals. The minister is not without supporters over the issue. Ayad al Samarraie, the parliamentary speaker, said Iraq's two current bidding rounds for oil and gas development rights should go ahead, even if members of parliament did not agree with the ministry on contractual terms. "We need the current fields to be developed through Iraqi effort while using foreign expertise by service contracts," he said. But Ali Balou, the Kurdish politician who heads the parliamentary oil and gas committee, said he would "totally reject" the eight long-term contracts to be awarded on June 29 and June 30 unless they had been approved by parliament. "We will not allow the oil ministry to move ahead, ignoring parliament and signing contracts, since they are illegal and unconstitutional," he said. The Kurdistan regional government said Baghdad's policy was "against the economic interests of the people of Iraq". The Kurdish government, which has been at loggerheads with Iraq's central government over how foreign oil companies operating in Iraq should get paid, said semiautonomous Kurdistan had made "clear progress" in a short time on increasing Iraqi oil production and revenues by focusing on exploration, not existing production, in a way that "best encourages investment". Many of Dr Shahristani's critics, including the Kurds, have argued that the minister's nationalistic approach to oil development would discourage investment. Conversely, a group led by the South Oil Company's director general wants foreign participation in projects to boost output from Iraq's producing field to be restricted to short-term contracts. Dr Shahristani said his plan called for Iraq to auction oil exploration prospects in the future. "If we keep working on our existing fields without digging anew and putting in more effort, production will decrease," he said. Iraq's current output of 2.45 million barrels per day (bpd) from proved reserves of 115 million - the third largest in the world - is below the peak level of more than 2.6 million bpd reached before the US-led invasion in 2003. tcarlisle@thenational.ae

Back to the top

More articles

Editor's Picks

 The Greens, villas: Q1 no change. 3BR - Dh210-250,000. 4BR - Dh210-260,000. 5BR - Dh220-300,000. Q1 2013-Q1 2014 5% rise. Pawan Singh / The National

In pictures: Where Dubai rents have risen and fallen, Q1 2014

Find out how rental prices in the prime locations in Dubai have altered during the first three months of the year and the current rates you will pay according to data provided by Asteco.

 Above, the private pool of Ocean Heights' five-bedroom penthouse flat. Courtesy Christie’s International Real Estate

In pictures: Penthouse flat is height of Dubai luxury living

A five-bedroom penthouse in Ocean Heights in Dubai Marina is on sale for Dh25 million and comes with a private pool and an unparalleled view of Dubai.

 The cooling towers of the Temelin nuclear power plant near the Tyn nad Vltavou in Czech Republic. The country wants to continue expanding nuclear energy capacity despite cancelling a tender to build two new units. David W Cerny / Reuters

In pictures: Best business images for the week to April 17, 2014

Here are some of the best business images for the week to April 17, 2014.

 Three generations of the Hakimi family tend to their stall Crawford Market in Mumbai. Subhash Sharma for The National

In pictures: Shopper’s delight at Crawford Market in Mumbai

Crawford Market is an old British-style covered market dealing in just about every kind of fresh food and domestic animal imaginable. Later on renamed Mahatma Jotirao Phule, the market remains popular among locals and visitors by its old name, taken from Arthur Crawford who was the first municipal commissioner of the city.

 The Wind, Energy, Technology and Environment Exhibition takes place from April 14 to April 16. Above, the Dewa showroom during last year’s Wetex. Jaime Puebla / The National

April corporate and economic calendar for the UAE and overseas

From Cityscape to Wetex to stock-market holidays to nations reporting first-quarter GDP figures, here is our helpful calendar of April's business events in the UAE and internationally.

 Get the latest information on credit cards, bank accounts and loan products in the UAE. Mark Lennihan / AP Photo

Rates report: Latest on UAE loans, accounts and credit cards

Souqamal.com brings you the latest interest rates on banking products in the UAE.


To add your event to The National listings, click here

Get the most from The National