Sunday, November 11, 2007
(UPI) -- Iraq’s Kurdistan Regional Government will announce two more oil deals in coming days as it develops its oil sector with state-owned and private oil firms. There has been no response yet from Baghdad after the KRG’s announcement last Tuesday of another six production-sharing contracts it has signed. The KRG’s semiautonomous region in Iraq’s north has the geological makeup for major oil and natural gas deposits but has 0.5 percent of Iraq’s proven oil reserves.
Baghdad has called the KRG’s oil deals illegal, saying it needs to wait for a national oil law to be approved. That law is being held up for lack of agreement as to whether the federal government or regions and provinces have the authority to sign deals, among other reasons. KRG Natural Resources Minister Ashti Hawrami told United Press International in a telephone interview two additional oil deals, including at least one with “a Western company,” will be announced “in just a few days, maybe a week.” According to a KRG map of exploration blocks, it has 28 either open or pending contracts.
The KRG has signed deals with a number of smaller, more risk-taking firms, including Hunt Oil of Dallas. Larger firms fear blacklisting from Baghdad, which will likely have the say-so on the majority of Iraq’s oil deals. But Tuesday’s announcement of deals by the KRG shows the applicants for its deals are getting weightier. A subsidiary of MOL Hungarian Oil and Gas was part of two production-sharing contracts. India’s largest private oil company, Reliance Energy, and Central Europe powerhouse OMV, an Austrian firm, each signed two production-sharing contracts.
The KRG also awarded four “strategic blocks” to the Kurdistan Exploration and Production Co. and gave the discovered but not developed Khurmala oil field to the Kurdistan National Oil Co. Both KEPCO -- which will concentrate on exploration and production -- and KNOC -- an operator of discovered fields -- were newly formed under the KRG’s oil law but would send revenues to Baghdad to redistribute. Hawrami said the companies “answer to the Council of Ministers in Kurdistan and is monitored and regulated by the Ministry of Natural Resources in Kurdistan, and is recognized by the Parliament in Kurdistan.” KNOC will also build a 50,000 barrels per day refinery.