Kurdish petroleum law
Looking to capitalise on this reading of the Iraqi Constitution, the KRG passed the Oil and Gas Law of the Kurdistan Region – Iraq (22/2007). In Article 1 (Definitions), 'current field' and 'future field' are defined as follows:
"Current Field: a Petroleum Field that has been in Commercial Production prior to 15 August 2005;
Future Field: a Petroleum Field that was not in Commercial Production prior to 15 August 2005, and any other Petroleum Field that may have been, or may be, discovered as a result of subsequent exploration."(2)
To further legitimise the claims of the KRG, Article 2 of the same law states:
"Second: Pursuant to Article 115 and paragraphs (1) and (2) of Article 121 of the Federal Constitution, no federal legislation, and no agreement, contract, memorandum of understanding or other federal instrument that relates to Petroleum Operations shall have application except with the express agreement of the relevant authority of the Region."
As the 2005 Constitution does not specifically reserve the power to issue an oil law as an exclusively federal power, the Kurdistan Oil Law may be seen as valid and has not been challenged legally.
The definition of the term 'present' in Article 112(1) is the main focus of the argument that the Kurds will present to justify control over the region's oil. As the federal government may expressly assert management over only the 'present' oil fields (the word not being defined in the 2005 Constitution), and no mention is made of 'future' oil fields, Article 115 reserves all other powers to the regions. This would appear to open the door for Kurdish control over resources which do not fall under the definition of 'present fields'. This argument is bolstered on a plain reading of Article 121 of the Constitution, which empowers regions to override federal legislation that touches on areas which are outside of the exclusive authority of Baghdad.
For further information on this topic please contact Thomas W Donovan at Iraq Law Alliance PLLC by telephone ( +964 7 901 919 425 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting +964 7 901 919 425 end_of_the_skype_highlighting ), fax (+20 2 760 4593) or email ([email protected]).