LAWFUEL – The Law Newswire – BAGHDAD — The New York Times has reported that the Iraqi Cabinet is closer to completing work on an oil law that the U.S. Congress has demanded progress on before it authorizes additional money for the war.
The Cabinet approved one part of the legislative package, known officially as the hydrocarbon framework law, and sent it to parliament. The measure affirms that Iraq’s vast oil wealth belongs to all its citizens and sets out the role of a new, powerful federal oil and gas council, which will control oil and gas policy and review all contracts for oil field exploration and development.
The country’s proven oil reserves are in the Kurdish north and the Shiite south of Iraq. The reserves are estimated at 115 billion barrels, the third-largest in the world.
If the country can now agree on how to develop its oil and share the income, many Iraqi and American policymakers believe it would augur well for Iraq’s chances of remaining united and reconciling its violent sectarian and ethnic rivalries.
Undercutting those efforts is the daily drumbeat of violence, which Tuesday included an evening car bomb in the poor Shiite neighborhood of Shaab in Baghdad. It set stores ablaze, burning a number of people to death.
Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki described the oil measure as “the most important legislation” to reach parliament and laid out a schedule for moving ahead on other measures designed to improve relations between Iraq’s Shiite majority and Sunni Arabs.