WASHINGTON, July 17 (UPI) -- More than 100 Iraqi oil,
economic and legal experts sent a letter to Iraq's Parliament urging it to
consider their critique of the draft oil law.
A senior Iraqi government
official was also given a copy and agreed with the technocrats' assessment.
"With our conviction for the need of a law to organize the upstream
sector and its development, and due to its extreme importance, we emphasize the
importance of acting steadily," the letter states, "and not rushing its issuance
before enriching it with more discussions and carry out amendments that ensure
the interest of all the Iraqi people."
The letter calls for a strong
central government arm in maintaining and developing Iraq's vast oil and gas
sector, though with the "participation of the regions and the governorates in
the operations of planning, implementation and management within a comprehensive
vision that ensures the maximum benefits for the whole people of Iraq."
The oil law has been in negotiations since last summer. The Kurds claim
the rights to strong regional control over their share of Iraq's 115 billion
barrels of proven while others want a varied amount of central control. Also at
issue is how the sector may be opened up to foreign, private investment.
Iraq produces 2 million barrels per day, of which more than 75 percent
are sent to the global market.
The letter, signed by 108 experts, calls
for the oil law to be put on hold until ongoing constitutional wrangling is
completed. "There are ongoing discussions aiming to amend the Iraqi
constitution, including the items relating to oil and gas," it states. "Hence we
do not see, from the legal and technical point of view, the necessity to enact
the law presented to you now before the constitutional amendments are
The senior Iraqi official, speaking on condition of
anonymity, called for a thorough examination of the law, especially as the U.S.
benchmarks requiring the law's passage by September loom large.
it's a legitimate call," the official said. "This law is going to affect our
lives; it's going to affect the lives of our children."