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Kurdistan condemns draft Iraq oil law
by Staff Writers
Arbil, Iraq (AFP) Sept 5, 2011

North Iraq's autonomous Kurdistan region on Monday condemned a draft oil and gas law that was approved by the central government and called on parliament to reject it.

"The presidency of the Kurdistan region condemns this manoeuvre and calls on the council of minister to withdraw the draft immediately, because it contradicts the constitution," it said in a statement.

"We call on the speaker of parliament to reject the draft law submitted by the council of ministers and to continue the current legislative path, taking into consideration any proposed amendments by all parties, including the reservations of the Kurdistan alliance," it said.

Kurdish leaders and the central government have squabbled over a number of oil-related issues, including payments, revenue sharing and Baghdad's refusal to recognise the dozens of oil contracts Arbil has signed with international energy firms.

There is also the issue of oil-rich Kirkuk province, which Kurdish authorities want incorporated into their autonomous region, while officials in Baghdad strongly oppose such a move.

The cabinet passed the draft oil law, which would govern the sector and divide responsibility between Baghdad and Iraq's provinces, and transferred it to the Iraqi parliament on August 28.

Despite the lack of such guidelines, foreign investors have still poured in, signing 11 contracts to potentially boost the country's oil output five-fold.

The oil and gas, or hydrocarbons, law has been repeatedly delayed since it was first submitted to parliament in 2007. It has been held up due to disagreements between MPs from the country's many different communities.

Iraq currently produces around 2.7 million barrels of oil per day (bpd), and domestic authorities are targeting a capacity of 12 million bpd by 2017, although the IMF has voiced doubts over whether that target is obtainable.

Oil accounts for the lion's share of government income, with Iraq exporting around 2.2 million bpd.

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