By Simon Kent.
Prime Minister Haidar al Abadi has received a huge boost to his embattled reform campaign as parliament approved his initial choice for new Minister of Oil, Jabar Ali al Luaibi.
Luaibi was formerly the head of the South Oil Company, and his appointment comes after difficult negotiations with the IMF, that included the stipulation that loan money would repay IOC debt, and that no new debt would accrue after the Summer.
The appointment follows more good news in early August, when it was revealed a number of IOCs including Lukoil and BP had investment plans for Iraq’s giant southern fields, albeit at lower levels than 2015.
Beginning in early 2015, slashed capital expenditures saw projects halted and gradual output declines, leading some to speculate output could fall dramatically in 2017.
Abadi has been further boosted by the approval of 5 more ministers, with only his nomination of Trade Minister being rejected. The new cabinet arrangement follows months of political deadlock which saw Sadrist protesters storm parliament, furious that a reform program lasting more than 18 months had shown little progress.
Notably however, the anger was not entirely aimed at Abadi, but by the entrenched political system that has resisted his reforms. Even after parliament was stormed, deadlock continued as various cross sectarian alliances boycotted the House of Representatives.
PM Abadi must now capitalize on the new appointments, and will likely be hoping that the coming Mosul offensive is a rapid and clear victory.