DUBAI Oct 14 The government of Iraqi Kurdistan
has reiterated that the oil deals it has signed with foreign
companies this year are legal and said most of the returns would
be shared with the rest of Iraq.
Nechirvan Barzani, Prime Minister of the Kurdistan Regional
Government, told Al Jazeera that he had waited a long time for
Baghdad to pass a long-awaited law organising the country's oil
sector, but the regional government decided to move ahead with its
own legislation following lengthy delays.
"We waited a lot for Baghdad but there was a lot of pressure
on us and on me personally to pass a law .... yet there was no
response from Baghdad," he said in an interview aired on Sunday.
"Everything was meant to come from Baghdad but by May or June
nothing had happened so we presented a law and ... it was passed
unanimously by the Kurdish parliament."
Iraq's central government agreed on a draft oil law early this
year, under which control and revenue from Iraq's oil reserves are
to be shared among Baghdad and Iraq's provinces, but the law has
since been stalled by political infighting.
The draft has yet to be approved by the national parliament in
Baghdad and Barzani said amendments had since been made which the
Kurds had not agreed to, and it was not clear what the law in its
current form contained.
Frustrated by delays, the Kurdish Regional Government approved
its own oil law in August and said last month it had signed a
production-sharing contract with a unit of U.S.-based Hunt Oil Co
and with Impulse Energy Corp. It has signed eight contracts so far
and expects to sign two more soon.
Barzani said the contracts were in line with Iraq's
constitution, which allows provinces substantial control of
natural resources, and with the revenue-sharing provisions of the
draft oil law.
"If we are convinced that the Iraqi constitution is federal
... then what we did is according to the constitution, no more no
less," he said in an interview that was dubbed into Arabic.
"Under these contracts, we get 17 percent of all sales of oil
produced from our land and the rest will be distributed among all
the other Iraqi regions. So if we are sharing all this with Iraq
and not saying it is all ours, what is all the fuss about? There
are some who just want to keep everything in Baghdad's control."
But Iraq's Oil Minister Hussain al-Shahristani has repeatedly
said the contracts were illegal and complained about a lack of
transparency by the Kurdish authorities.
He said crude from the deals could not be legally exported
because the draft law states that only Iraq's State Oil Marketing
Organisation holds the right to export oil.