Iraq warns foreign oil companies against bypassing government

Iraq’s Oil Minister Jabar Ali al-Luaibi talks to journalists during a meeting of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) in Vienna, Austria, November 30, 2016. REUTERS/Heinz-Peter Bader

Baghdad ( Iraq warned foreign petroleum companies on Thursday against engaging in deals in Iraq away from the federal authorities, reinforcing its takeover of oil resources disputed with Kurdistan Region.

Oil minister Jabbar al-Luaibi said in a statement on Thursday that “Irresponsible statements by some officials inside or outside Iraq, or by foreign companies, about their intentions to sign contracts with some party within the geographic boundaries of the country without the knowledge of the federal government or the petroleum ministry is a blatant intervention into Iraq’s domestic affairs and a deduction of national sovereignty”.

The minister stressed on the federal government and the petroleum ministry as “the sole bodies which have constitutional and legal authority to sign contracts and deals related to the development and investment of petroleum and gas resources”. He warned that deals and contracts made otherwise are “non-binding” for the Iraqi government.

The statement came hours after Russian giant Rosneft said it signed an agreement with Kurdistan region for sharing production from five production blocks.

Iraq has ordered Kurdish authorities to hand over the administration of oil fields following the region’s vote for independence from the central government in September. Iraqi forces said Monday they regained full control over oil fields previously held by Kurds at the disputed province of Kirkuk.

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