Iraq oil minister bent on forming state firm

Iraq’s Ministry of Oil is committed to forming the Iraqi National Oil Company (INOC) to operate Iraq’s oil fields and to capture gas flares for electricity generation – despite earlier constitutional concerns.

Thamer al-Ghadhban, Iraq’s minister of oil, was hosted by state media al-Iraqiyah to talk about Iraq’s oil industry. The minister discussed institutional and bureaucratic reform in the ministry.

The ministry is determined to establish the INOC, he said.

“We are moving ahead with forming the Iraqi national oil company,” the minister told the news channel.

The national oil company was Ghadhban’s brainchild, hatched in the post-2003 period after the fall of Saddam Hussein. After delays and setbacks, he is keen to revive the project.

Under Iraq’s constitution, oil belongs to the Iraqi people. An interpretation that appears to hand oil resources to a company throws up constitutional problems.

The resurrection of the INOC could be done in one of two ways. Either the parliament makes amendments to the previous bill to rectify the constitutional issues, or the council of ministers prepares a new text and then puts it before parliament.

“I prefer the latter, but I don’t insist too much about it,” said Ghadhban. The INOC will not minimize the role of the Ministry of Oil, he added.

A National Refinery Company and a National Gas Company are also planned.