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Iraq regional oil contracts legal: Kurdistan PM

[JURIST] Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani [official profile] defended the legality of the semi-autonomous Kurdish government's Kurdistan Oil and Gas Law [official statement] in an interview aired on Al Jazeera Sunday, faulting the Iraqi national government in Baghdad for failing to finalize oil revenue legislation. Barzani insisted that the KRG's oil contracts with foreign companies were consistent with the Iraqi constitution [JURIST news archive] and with revenue-sharing requirements of the draft national oil law. Barzani said that the KRG will retain 17 percent of the total revenues from the independent oil contracts, with the remainder distributed to other Iraqi provinces.

In September, the KRG called for the resignation [JURIST report] of Iraqi Oil Minister Hussein al-Shahristani after al-Shahristani accused the KRG of illegally exporting oil. Al-Shahristani contends that the KRG's contracts with several global companies are illegal because the Iraqi parliament has not yet passed a controversial oil law [JURIST news archive]. The Kurdistan Oil and Gas Law, adopted [JURIST report] in August, allows the Kurdish government to control its own oil resources and select its own foreign investors. Iraq's national draft oil revenue bill has been a source of tension between various ethnic fractions in the Iraqi parliament, and has endured lengthy delays due to successive legislative boycotts [JURIST reports]. Sunni politicians have pushed for federal control over oil revenues and approval rights for foreign development, while Kurds have been adamant about retaining domestic control over oil resources. Reuters has more.

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