As Iraq reports the results of its recent gas auctions, the western province of Anbar is demanding more control over its potentially huge energy reserves, including the vast desert province’s Akkas reservoir.
According to Reuters, Anbar’s government last week rejected Baghdad’s plan for the auction due to the possibility that surplus gas will be exported.
Anbar’s opposition reflects deep discontent in Iraq’s Sunni heartland about the Shiite-led central government.
“We are against the approach of the central government and we will be against any contract between the central government and any company in the world,” Anbar Governor Qasim Abid said.
“We have our own vision of how to develop this [field].”
Mainly Sunni Anbar Province, controlled by Al-Qaeda in the years following the US-led ouster of Saddam Hussein, has been relatively quiet since tribal sheikhs joined forces with US troops to drive out Sunni Islamist militants in 2006 and 2007.
“We demand the Oil Ministry start exploration in Anbar because it’s unfair to develop and start production from oilfields in some provinces and ignore the billions of barrels of crude we have,” Anbar provincial council leader Jassim Mohammad said.
Anbar authorities warned they would refuse to provide security to foreign firms working in Akkas and would use all means, including “civil revolt,” if Baghdad ignores their demands.