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Iraqi parliament to consider legislation on oil industry

[JURIST] The Iraqi Council of Representatives [official website] will likely consider this week two new draft reform bills attempting to solidify the nation's oil law [JURIST news archive], Energy Committee Chairman Abdul-Hadi al-Hassani said Saturday. Under the first draft law, the state-run and government-funded Iraqi National Oil Company will be reestablished to operate alongside the North Oil Company and South Oil Company [official websites]. The second draft law, which calls for harsher penalties against oil smugglers ranging from jail time to the confiscation of shipping boats, is aimed at curbing the estimated $5 billion lost annually in Iraq to oil smugglers. The bills comprise part of a larger reform package intended to reorganize and better regulate the country's oil sector, as well as attempt to achieve an equitable distribution of oil revenues among the country's Sunni, Shi’ite and Kurdish populations.

Negotiations collapsed [JURIST report] last September over a controversial oil bill that would govern the distribution and refinement process and give the national government control over oil revenue. The fate of the bill, which the Iraqi cabinet approved [JURIST report] in February 2007, has remained in limbo as a result of a conflict between the Iraqi oil minister and officials from the Kurdish north, where most Iraqi oil is located. Sunni politicians and Iraqi national government officials have sought greater control over oil development and revenues in Iraq's Kurdish regions, while Kurdish lawmakers have resisted ceding control to Baghdad. The oil law is one of 18 benchmarks [text; JURIST report] established by the US Congress to measure US success in the Iraq mission. AP has more.

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