Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Iraq faces clash with Kurds over oil deals

Financial Times

Iraq’s newly appointed oil minister said on Tuesday that the central government should handle all contracts related to petroleum exploration and production, putting him on a potential collision course with the autonomous Kurdish region which has recently begun to develop its own oil resources.

Hussein al-Shahristani also said at a Baghdad news conference that the country hoped to pass an investment law soon to bring in foreign investment to upgrade the country’s battered oil infrastructure.

“Any oil production, exports or exploration should be handled by the ministry of oil,” said Mr Shahristani, a member of the Shia-led United Iraqi Alliance, in one of his first statements since a national unity government was announced at the weekend.

He had earlier said that Iraq’s new government needed to get “national agreement” from regional oil officials on ambiguous articles in the constitution governing investment.

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