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What Oil Policy for Iraq? By Tariq Shafiq *

It is in the national interest that the Ministry of Oil, especially in the absence of due democratic processes in making policy, consult with an Iraqi think-tank, made up of competent Iraqi oil technocrats, in an atmosphere of constructive debate.

Rules and procedures for incorporating advice and consultation from the think-tank ought to be worked out and selection should be based solely on merit and absence of conflict of interest. It is important in such an exercise, I explained, that constructive dialogue is encouraged and opinions expressed without discrimination or incrimination. Furthermore, oil policy and plans must ensure optimum benefits to the nation, the rightful proprietor of this depleting asset. They should be prepared with the utmost care and diligence over a sufficient period of time in order to allow for constructive debate. Hydrocarbon resources are an inalienable property of the state. In other words, petroleum is a non-renewable depleting asset, meriting conservation, maximum fiscal reward, as well as among other things, participation of the national oil company and inclusion of ‘national content’ which should be built into every contract.

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