By Ahmed Mousa Jiyad.
Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.
The Federal Oil and Gas Law in Iraq:
A sudden alarming move that calls for caution and readiness to encounter
In a very surprising and sudden move it was announced that the "Opinion Board" (Hayaatul raay هيئة الرأي) of the Ministry of Oil (MoO) discussed and approved the final version of the Federal Oil and Gas Law (FOGL) at its meeting on Wednesday, February 24, 2021.
In a statement by Ministry's Press Office, Minister of Oil Ihsan A. Ismail confirms this final version will be referred to the Council of Ministers (CoM) for approval after it was reviewed by the "concerned authorities in the Ministry", and then CoM will review this text, and in turn refer it to the House of Representatives (HoR) to enact it as law.
The Press Office did not provide, in its brief statement, any important or new information about the components and contents of this final version of the bill, or on its similarity to any of the previously presented drafts (a minimum of three), or to what prompted the Ministry to take this action at this particular timing in this way!!
The real reasons behind this "suddenness" at this particular time could be explained by or related to many issues or events that are dominating the current political environment. It could be linked to the stalled approval of 2021 budget law, or to the ongoing back and forth dialogue between the federal government and KRG (including efforts by some politicians and heads of some politico-religious groups), or with the end of the current government's mandate and the HoR term, as the national election is rescheduled from June to October this year, or with the current debate at HoR regarding the 15 year old Federal Supreme Court Law (FSCL), or with the coordination efforts (covert or overt) between the announcement of this bill and the proposed first amendment to the Iraqi National Oil Company (INOC law), which seems to be expedited by the Head of the Oil and Energy Committee in the House of Representatives (Haybat Al-Halbousi) ... or all of these ... or a combination of them ... or maybe even others.
Each of the previously presented versions of FOGL is complex, incoherent, long and highly politicized; all has been under consideration for more than fifteen years, and much was written about the law throughout that period.
Because of the urgency, importance and necessity for discussing this "final version" of the law seriously and professionally to protect the country's hydrocarbon wealth in serving the Iraq interest and the rights of future generations, I find it imperative to make very brief assessment on the background and what has been revealed on this abrupt move.
Mr Jiyad is an independent development consultant, scholar and Associate with the former Centre for Global Energy Studies (CGES), London. He was formerly a senior economist with the Iraq National Oil Company and Iraq's Ministry of Oil, Chief Expert for the Council of Ministers, Director at the Ministry of Trade, and International Specialist with UN organizations in Uganda, Sudan and Jordan. He is now based in Norway (Email: mou-jiya(at)online.no, Skype ID: Ahmed Mousa Jiyad). Read more of Mr Jiyad's biography here.