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July 2007
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Translation of the Statement of 108 Iraqi Oil Experts to the Iraqi Parliament

Al-Ghad is publishing, below, the English translation of the statement signed by 108 Iraqi Oil Experts and other professionals to the Iraqi parliament.

To the President and members of the Iraqi Council of Representatives

During the last six months, public opinion, and the signatories of this document (oil experts, lawyers and economists) have been occupied with the procedures and events that accompanied the Oil and Gas Law. Many symposiums were held, the most prominent of which may be the symposium that was held by the oil experts in Amman, Jordan on February 17th, 2007 which produced a number of recommendations that was presented at the time to your council.

As everybody knows, the draft of the law took it’s path to the State Shoura Council, which, in a professional way, redrafted the law linguistically as well as suggesting some important notes to improve the efficiency of its performance, implemenation and to safeguard the interests of all Iraqi people. But it did not tackle some other important aspects.

We note that the Council of Ministers approved on July 3rd, 2007 the draft of the law and referred it to your Council for the purpose of disscussing and enacting the law.

Although this final draft has not been published, it was noted from the available information, as well as from the prouncements of officials of the central gonvernment and the Kurdistan Regional Govrnment, that there are still differences concerning the four Annexes. These Annexes, included in the previous draft of the law, contains the classification of the producing fields and the discovered but undeveloped fields that are situated near the production centres. Fields to be placed under the auspices of the National Oil Company that is to be created under the law.

These differences resulted in the recommendation that these annexes to be deferred later for consideration by the Federal Council of Oil and Gas. A matter which, in our opinion, does not remedy this important issue.

It is worth noting that the Council of Ministers has lately referred to you the draft of the Reveue Sharing Law, through which an important part of the claims of the Kurdistan region can be handled. Hence, at the present time, concentration may be given to the disscussing of this Reveue Sharing Law in isolation of the Oil and Gas Law.

Mr. President and Members of the Council

After seeing the draft of the Oil and Gas Law, that was refferred to you, we noticed that it does not differ in it’s essence from the first draft except in the noticeable improvement in the language. The present draft has ignored the comments presented by the State Shoura Council as well as all other comments, including our comments, formulated in the Amman symposium, the symposiums held by the oil trade unions and non-governmental organisartions, in addition to many political blocks.

Because of our fee of the extreme importance of the Oil and Gas Law to the present and future of our dear country, we again turn towards you to expend your utmost efforts towards studying and checking the law, removing and remedying the sources of faults in it, and seeking the help of expert Iraqis for their opinions and expertise.

According to the above, we would like to emphasize to your council the following observations :

  1. Our conviction for the need of a law to organise the upstream sector and it’s development. And due to it’s extreme importance, we emphasize the need of acting steadily and not rushing it’s issuance of the law before enriching it with more disscussions and carrying out amendments that ensure the interest of all the iraqi people. Also, not to ignore the sector of the processing industries (refining, distribution and gas processing), with the priority given for the enacting of the Iraq National Oil Company Law.
  2. With reference to ongoing disscussions aiming to amend the Iraqi Constiutution, including the items related to oil and gas, we do not see, from the legal and technical point of view, the neccessity to enact the law presented to you now before the constitutional amendments are finalized.
  3. Licensing contracts of exploration, development and production, form the backbone of this law. Hence it is vital to emphasise the role of the Council of Representatives in the approval of such contracts - similar to what is adopted in the rest of the world. It is regrettable to notice that the authority of the council is restricted to the enacting of the law and the approval of international agreements only.
  4. As for the four annexes attached to the law, they are of vital importance. So, we emphasise on the Council of Representatives, the necessity to discuss them as part and parcel of the proposed law. We emphasize also upon the role of the Iraqi National Oil Company the necessity for it to undertake its responsibility of managing all the producing and discovered fields in a form that will safeguard the rights of the Iraqi people completely and not to foresake any of the oil reserves in any contractual form to foreign entities.
  5. We assert the importance and necessity to adopt a comprehensive central plan for the whole of iraq to determine the priorities of explorations and development efforts according to economic and technical basis prevalent in the oil industry; recognising the importance of the participation of the regions and the governorates in the operations of planning, implementation and management within a comprehensive vision that ensures the maximum benefites for the whole people of Iraq.
  6. The passing of this law without paying attention to the expected impacts of competition between the regions and governorates, and conflicts that will entail, will definetely lead to the enforcement of the situation of division, anarchy and choas. .The best example of this, the latest unilateral declaration by the Kurdistan Regional Government offering 40 exploration blocks for foreign investment, without even waiting for the enacting of the federal law and without the existence of a comprehensive and approved central plan for the whole of Iraq, including the Kurdistan region.

Finally, we call upon the President and the Members of the Council to take a historic stand that will be remembered and registered for them in protecting the interests of the whole of the Iraqi people and in defending the rights of it’s future generations.

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