HOUSTON Nov 5 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
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)