Iraks oljeminister sier kontraktene om oljeutvinning som kurdiske myndigheter har sluttet med norske DNO og et tyrkisk selskap, ikke er gyldige. Ingen kontrakter inngått før den nye oljeloven er gyldige, sa Hussain al-Shahristani onsdag.

Oljeloven er ennå ikke behandlet av parlamentet, og kurderne er misfornøyde med at det skal opprettet et sentralt organ som skal ha overoppsyn og siste ord.

The Kurds recently discovered two fields in northern Iraq, after signing contracts with a Norwegian and a Turkish company. But on Wednesday the Iraqi oil minister, Hussain al-Shahristani, a Shiite, said at a conference in Saudi Arabia that any contracts signed by the Kurds before passage of the oil law were considered invalid and illegal, news agencies reported.

In Erbil, Mr. Salih, the Kurdish spokesman, said the Kurdish contracts were legal and «had been prepared according to international standards and norms.»

The draft law approved by the Iraqi cabinet says regions may enter into contracts, but a powerful new central body called the Federal Oil and Gas Council would have the power to «prevent» the contracts from going forward if they did not meet certain standards. A panel of oil experts from inside and outside Iraq would advise the federal council on the contracts.

Oil industry analysts estimate the country’s proven oil reserves at 115 billion barrels. Iraqi oil production peaked at 3.7 million barrels a day in 1979, according to the United States Department of Energy. Production stood at 2.6 million barrels a day before the 2003 invasion, but has dropped since. Passage of the draft law is seen as critical for encouraging the foreign investment needed to lift production levels.

The draft oil law would allow regions to enter into production-sharing agreements with foreign companies, which some Iraqis and critics of the Bush administration say could lead to foreigners reaping too much of the country’s oil wealth.

Iraqi officials say all contracts will be subjected to a fair bidding process, but there are fears that American companies could be favored.

Iraqi Blocs Opposed to Draft Oil Bill

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