Tuesday, September 11, 2007


Iraqi oil minister says new U.S. - KRG oil deal is illegal

Oil, Kurdistan
(AP) -- An agreement announced this weekend between U.S.-based Hunt Oil Co. and the self-ruled Kurdish administration of northern Iraq to explore for oil is illegal, Iraq's oil minister Hussain al-Shahristani said Monday. Those comments underscore the central government's view that exploration contracts with foreign companies should be signed only after the adoption of a new national oil law, which has been stalled for months.
"Any oil deal has no standing as far as the government of Iraq is concerned," al-Shahristani said as he arrived for an OPEC meeting in Vienna. "All these contracts have to be approved by the Federal Authority before they are legal. This (contract) was not presented for approval. It has no standing."
Hunt Oil, a privately held independent oil company, and the Kurdish regional government said Saturday they had signed a production-sharing contract for petroleum exploration in the Kurdistan region of northern Iraq. Terms were not disclosed. Dallas, Texas-based Hunt declined to comment Monday. The deal is one of several the Kurds have signed with foreign oil companies in the past few years and the first since they put their own oil law into effect in August.
These deals have angered Baghdad, but the Kurdish region appears determined to advance oil exploration in the three-province area they govern in northern Iraq, as Iraq's long-delayed federal oil law remains hobbled by disagreements -- among others, about the control of revenues. Despite Iraq's vast oil reserves, major international companies have sat on the sidelines, not only for security reasons but because of the absence of legislation governing the industry and offering protection for investments.

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