Who controls the Iraqi oil fields that could make the nation one of the richest in the region? As political rivals squabble, that question could be one that topples the precariously balanced Iraqi government, according to this report from Niqash. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.
Iraq is officially the owner of the third largest oil reserves in the world and in August, it produced almost 2.2 million barrels a day, according to data provided by the Iraqi oil ministry. Those numbers are expected to continue to rise and Iraq could become one of the biggest investment areas for energy companies from all around the world.
But there is one big obstacle: the federal oil and gas law. Efforts to come up with legislation that is acceptable to all parties to a hydrocarbons deal inside Iraq have so far failed. And with developments this month, the issue looks like it could cause further trouble inside the fledgling democracy, with its precariously balanced ruling coalition.
The first draft of a federal oil and gas law was formulated by the Iraqi cabinet in 2007. Although it was the subject of much debate and was never passed by the Iraqi parliament, that version did give regional powers, such as those in the semi-autonomous state of Iraqi Kurdistan, at least partial authority over the oil reserves in their own area.
However in early September, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki approved a new formulation of the same law and again, has sent it to parliament for approval.
Several important, and potentially even more controversial, things changed in this version.