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Financial Times: Iraqi oil law faces challenge

By Ed Crooks
Published: September 6 2007 03:00 | Last updated: September 6 2007 03:00

More than 100 MPs have called on the government to explain its involvement in Iraq’s new oil law, raising concerns about the influence of western oil companies.

A parliamentary early-day motion demanding that “decisions on the Iraqi oil industry should be made by the Iraqi people without outside interference” has been signed by 118 MPs, including Vincent Cable, the Liberal Democrat’s Treasury spokesman, and Clare Short, the former international development secretary.

The government has denied it is serving the interests of the oil industry, however, saying that, while Britain has helped in drawing up the new law, all the decisions on it are for the Iraqis to make alone.

All the big oil companies are interested in working in Iraq, in spite of the continuing violence, because of the country’s huge resource potential.

According to some estimates, the country’s oil reserves are second only to Saudi Arabia’s. The oil is extremely cheap to extract as it is onshore and accessible. Both BP and Royal Dutch Shell have been giving technical assistance to the Iraqi oil ministry, helping it analyse oilfield data, and in Shell’s case advising on how to develop its gas industry.

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2007 and its also non-profit sister websites,,,,, and are all owned by John Donovan. There is also a Wikipedia article.

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