Irak har til tross for uro og vold bygget en ny oljeledning fra Kirkuk i nord til Tyrkia, som vil transportere 500.000 fat olje daglig. Det er en betydelig produksjonsøkning. Oljeminister Hussein al-Shahristani sier til Reuters at de har dannet en ny sikkerhetsstyrke på flere tusen mann som skal vokte ledningen, og som er noe helt annet enn de korrupte vokterne man er vant til. Hvis Shahristani får rett vil oljeledningen bety at regjeringen er i stand til å gjennomføre prosjekt som er avgjørende for landets fremtid. Oljesektoren er alfa og omega. Hvis den stabiliseres vil det tiltrekke utenlandske selskaper.

Shahristani sier parlamentet neste måned vil vedta den nye oljeloven: Den trekker opp rammene for tildeling av Iraks reserve på 112 milliarder fat. Sharistani sier den vil bygge på prinsippet om «production sharing agreements», dvs. at utenlandske selskaper er deleiere, til tross for all kritikken og advarslene som er kommet.

Crews have finished testing a 500,000-barrel per day pipeline covering a section of the northern export route and a special security force numbering thousands is being deployed to guard the network, Shahristani told Reuters.

«We have executed construction in a region practically on fire and we now have a bigger margin for manoeuvre as far as countering sabotage,» Shahristani said in an interview.

«The tests have been successful and the new security force is a different breed from the corrupt one of old,» he said on a visit to Damascus as a member of an Iraqi delegation negotiating improving ties with the Syrian government.

In the more stable south, Shahristani said Iraq is finalising talks to build a 100,000 bpd export pipeline from Basra to Iran’s Abadan port.

The project, which is scheduled to take a year to complete, has been delayed but meetings with the Iranian side are due to resume this month.

Most of Iraq’s oil exports currently originate from the south and are exported by sea from the Basra terminal, which is operating at full capacity.

«Oil will be sold to Iran at market prices. We don’t give discounts based on political considerations as Saddam did,» said Shahristani, who was a leading member of the opposition to the former Iraqi president.

He said he expected parliament to pass a law next month to regulate development of Iraq’s 112 billion barrels of reserves, despite internal opposition to production sharing agreements (PSAs) favoured by international oil companies.

«Several parliamentary blocs want to add a clause banning PSAs, although these deals are common even in highly nationalistic Syria,» Shahristani said.

«We at the ministry are not that enthusiastic about PSAs, especially that we have the finances and ability to raise production from existing fields,» he said.

The new law, Shahristani said, will stipulate a review of all oil and gas deals struck by Saddam and by the Kurdistan government to «guarantee total national control and the highest return for Iraq.» «Any contract that contradicts this has to be redrawn,» he said. «The oil law is not as contentious as those who oppose Iraqi democracy imagine.» (reuters)

Den nye loven vil dermed omfatte Det Norske Oljeselskaps kontrakter i Nord-Irak, men konsekvensene kjenner ingen foreløpig. At Statoil vil inn i Nord-Irak kan bety at de kjenner til planene om en utvidelse av produksjonen i nord.