Tuesday, 2 February 2010

The first part of reviving Iraq's oil sector story is done

There is no doubt that Iraq's eleven mega oil deals _ one a revived Saddam Hussein-era deal and ten resulted from two auctions _ and their vast investment commitments and expected bonanza will grant the country's Oil Minister Hussein Al-Shahristani a place in Iraq's modern history.

The nuclear scientist is the first Iraqi Oil Minister to orchestrate such plans that ended up with putting more than half of Iraq's proven 115 billion barrels in the hands of International Oil Companies for development. He managed to attract their sorely needed technology and money according his terms.

With these deals, he started his elections campaign for the March 7 parliamentary elections early despite his statements to The Wall Street Journal in a June 2009 interview when he said that he was planning to quit politics when ends his term to return to the Iraqi National Academy of Science, which he established in 2003.

His first public appearance outside the Oil Ministry building was last month at the University of Baghdad to talk about the deals. His second appearance was last Saturday before a group of Iraqi economists where a white woman with green eyes who was wearing Hijab and long cloak, believed to be his Canadian wife, was accompanying him.

Few hours later of that day, he appeared before a gathering of normal people in Taji area just few kilometers north of Baghdad also to talk about the deals and the job opportunities which will be created and the expected revenues to build new infrastructure.

I think Al-Shahristani has done his job perfectly by successfully completing the first part of Iraq's efforts to revive its rundown oil industry and the next step will be left to the next government which should cooperate with these companies and most importantly it should know where and how to spend each pence of the coming revenues.