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Iraqi Officials Urge Parliament To Pass Oil Bill

Oil Minister Husayn al-Shahristani called on legislators to "iron out" their differences.
BAGHDAD -- Senior Iraqi officials have appealed to members of parliament to pass an oil bill soon to provide the legal framework needed to attract investment in the country's oil industry.

Oil Minister Husayn al-Shahristani told RFE/RL's Radio Free Iraq (RFI) that there is disagreement between various factions on certain provisions of the bill but they should "iron out these problems" and agree on a final draft.

He added that the ministry will then be able to engage potential foreign investors on a firm basis.

Thamir al-Ghadhban, an energy adviser to the prime minister and a former oil minister, told RFI that an improved "legal environment" is vital to stimulating investment, especially in the oil sector.

The deputy chairman of the parliament's Oil and Gas Committee, Abdul-Hadi Hasani, told RFI that so far 58 members of the parliament have signed a petition demanding a first reading of the oil bill during this legislative term.

Disagreement revolves mainly around the right of the Kurdish regional government to sign oil deals independently of the central government, and around the distribution of oil revenues.

Shahristani has declared that oil deals signed by the Kurds with foreign companies are illegal.