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Iraqi lawmaker criticizes Shell deal

BAGHDAD (AP) — An Iraqi lawmaker has accused the Oil Ministry of a lack of transparency when it signed a preliminary deal with Royal Dutch Shell PLC to tap natural gas in southern Iraq.

Hassan Balo, head of the parliamentary committee on oil and gas, says other companies should have been allowed to bid. He says the deal grants a 25-year monopoly on gas development in southern Iraq to Shell.

Balo told reporters Tuesday that the deal should be reviewed by parliament.

In September, Iraq and Shell signed a preliminary deal to establish a joint venture in which Iraq will hold 51 percent and Shell the rest.

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