A new historic Iraqi oil and gas law that could be approved after the December local elections will allow foreign companies to have a share of oil output with the government, the official Alsabah newspaper reported on Thursday.

The much-delayed law, under debate for more than 15 years, could be passed after parliamentary elections in December despite persistent rifts between the federal government and the autonomous Kurdistan region in the North, the paper said, quoting Ali Mashkour, a member of the Parliament’s Oil and Gas Committee.

Mashkour said there are still 11 points of differences between the two sides despite progress made in the past months to narrow the gap.

One thorny issue, he added, is that Iraq’s Oil Minister will head a proposed federal oil and gas council while Kurdistan insists on its local Oil Minister Co-chairman.

“We expect the law to be ratified in parliament after the elections in December…the new point in this law is that it will permit production-sharing agreements between the government and foreign oil companies,” Mashkour said.

He revealed that oil export earnings would then be distributed proportionately among the country’s governorates depending on their GDP per capita.

“The new law also allows each governorate to separately award oil concessions as well as exploration and production contracts,” he said.

Iraq, a founding OPEC member, sits atop nearly 145 billion barrels of recoverable crude deposits, which could last nearly 100 years at current output levels.

(Writing by Nadim Kawach; Editing by Anoop Menon)


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