Former Minister Urges New Iraqi Government to Review Oil Contracts

Iraq's next government should review billions of dollars' worth of contracts that have been acquired by foreign companies to develop the country's oil fields, a former Iraqi oil minister said Monday.

'I think signing this many contracts, in so short a time, at the end of the government's term, leaves any future government stuck with long-term contracts that last for 25 years,' former Iraqi oil minister Ibrahim Bahr al-Ulum told the independent daily al-Bayana al-Jadida. 'There is a need to review these contracts.'

Iraq has signed 10 contracts with 15 foreign companies, such as Shell, Exxon Mobil, France's Total and Malaysia's Petronas, to develop 10 oil fields.

The deals are part of the country's bid to breathe life into its struggling economy and energy sector.

Bahr al-Ulum said the new government and the country's financial and legal institutions should review the contracts, taking into account all objections, and then decide what is best for the country.

'There is no doubt that some of them are useful, while others should be placed within a timeframe,' he told the daily.

Current Iraqi Oil Minister Hussein al-Shahristani has said the contracts will boost Iraq's oil output to 12 million barrels per day (bpd) within six years.

 Iraq relies on its current 2.5 million bpd in production for more than 90 per cent of its government revenue and about 60 per cent of its gross national product.

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