Iraqi MP says oil law could pass by year end

HOUSTON Wed Nov 5, 2008 2:25pm EST

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HOUSTON Nov 5 (Reuters) - Iraq's parliament could pass a long overdue federal oil law by the end of 2008, but other laws needed to get Iraq's energy production on track would have to wait until 2009, said the vice chairman of the legislature's oil and gas committee on Wednesday.

Speaking on the sidelines of a Houston energy conference Abdulhadi Al-Hassani said the law must unite all of Iraq, including the northern Kurdish region, disputes with which have held up the law's passage since February 2007.

"We want to build one people," Al-Hassani said. "We want to build one nation. We want this law to unite us. We can pass the oil law in the year, within in 2008."

Iraq's oil and natural gas industry also needs laws to govern a national oil company, which would partner with international companies, as well as laws on the distribution of revenues among Iraq's regions.

Passage of the oil law is being held up on the question of combining with the laws on a national oil company and revenue distribution, he said.

"They insist on passing the laws together, we have to do it one-by-one," Al-Hassani said.

Other news reports have cited disputes over contracts the Kurdish government has signed with oil companies.

The lack of a federal oil law is seen holding up Iraq's development of its reserves beyond current production of 2.5 million barrels per day.

To get around the lack of an oil law, the Iraqi government is in talks for individual contracts with foreign oil companies, including majors like Royal Dutch Shell Plc (RDSa.L) said Hamid Al Bayati, Iraq's ambassador to the United Nations.

As many as 115 companies are vying to develop Iraq's reserves, Iraqi officials have said.

Iraq hopes to expand the country's oil output to 4 million barrels per day within two to three years, Al Bayati said.

"The potential is up to 6 million, even 8 million, even 10 million barrels," he said.

Building an infrastructure to produce the maximum amount possible from Iraq's 115 billion barrels in proven reserves could cost $100 billion, Al Bayati said. (Reporting by Erwin Seba; Editing by Marguerita Choy)

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