Wednesday, 15 October 2008

Bad luck or mismanagment?

As Iraqi Oil Minister, Hussein al-Shahristani declared last Monday his country's first oil bidding round to develop six oil fields and two gas fields, accusations of selling off more than one third of Iraq's 115-billion-barrel proven reserves to international oil companies were immediately made.

Until now, according to what was released by al-Shahristani and the Ministry's director-general of Licenses and Contracts Directorate_Natik al-Bayati_ there is no evidence that Iraq gives these companies the upper hand or offers them any production-sharing contracts, a model of contracts which is favored by oil giants.

In short, Iraq will pay them flat fee for their service under a proposed service contract.

So in light of what the two officials declared to media, I think no one has the right yet to make such accusations unless he has solid evidences and has to present them.

I don't know whether it was al-Shahristani's bad luck or mismanagement behind such accusations.

The day he kicked off the bidding round when he met with the representatives of the pre-qualified companies in London and then did a press a conference to declare Iraq's conditions was a busy day for mainstream media outlets with the approval of the bailout plan and that this issue didn't take the enough space to be explained and analyzed accurately.

Or it was the Minister's bad management as his Ministry still doesn't have an effective and clear media policy to deal accuratly with the local and international media outlets to make available their plans' details to protect him from such accusations.

For instance; few days ahead of Monday's meeting, the Ministery issued a briefed statement, saying that the Minister was heading to London too meet companies representatives.

And only today, which is Wednesday, another briefed statement was issued about the same meeting, saying that the Minister met with these companies without any details about the conditions and contract form.


-I advise those who want to criticize and make their points in linking the war with oil, an idea I agree with, to have a look on all the details and then issue their statements. I urge them to read the best two coverage for Monday's meeting: the first one was for Ruba Husari of Internationl Oil Daily and Raphael G. Satter of the Associated Press. Both were in London.

-I advise Iraqi Oil Minister to make available to all media outlets, whether local or international inside or outside Iraq, all the details about these plans and update them from time to time whether by press conferences or round table meetings or detailed statements otherwise he and then the government will face a lot of such accusations as he did few months ago when Iraq was negotiating Technical Service Contracts with majors.