Monday, May 21, 2007

Iraq's VP rejects draft oil bill

SOUTHERN SHUNEH: Iraq's vice president said yesterday he opposes a draft law that is key to the future of his country's lucrative oil sector, saying it gives too many concessions to foreign oil companies.

"We disagree with the production sharing agreement," Tariq al-Hashemi told reporters on the sideline of an international conference hosted by the Geneva-based World Economic Forum. "We want foreign oil companies, and we have to lure them into Iraq to learn from their expertise and acquire their technology, but we shouldn't give them big privileges," Al-Hashemi said.

Al-Hashemi added he hoped oil corporations would nonetheless invest in Iraq despite ongoing security concerns. He said that his Iraqi Accordance Front, parliament's largest Sunni Arab bloc with 44 seats, was seeking to "amend" the draft oil legislation because the "clock is ticking and it's only a matter of one or two months before the law is enacted."

The Iraqi government is locked in debate over the draft oil law, which allows for sharing the country's vast oil wealth- believed to be the world's third biggest. Oil firms are eagerly awaiting the legislation, which sets a framework for licensing and access to Iraqi reserves.

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