By Murat Temizer
Iraq's ministry of oil issued a serious warning to all countries and oil companies on Thursday in contracting or trading with any authority in Iraq without seeking approval from the Baghdad central government and the ministry of oil.
The Minister of Oil, Jabbar Ali Hussein Al-Luiebi, in a written statement warned that irresponsible announcements from officials either inside or outside Iraq on their intention to sign oil contracts without the green light from the federal government or the ministry of oil is considered a "blatant interference in the internal affairs, a derogation of national sovereignty, and an outright violation of international norms."
He confirmed that the federal government and the ministry of oil are the only authorities that have the constitutional and legal authority to sign contracts and agreements to both develop or invest in the country's oil and gas wealth.
He also noted that the central government and the ministry of oil are the only authorities responsible for devising and implementing oil and gas strategies, in accordance with the constitution.
"The signing of agreements with other countries or contracting with international companies is considered illegal and does not bind the Iraqi government with anything, but the government and the ministry have the right to take all legal proceedings in local and international courts to protect the national wealth."
Al-Luiebi also stressed the ministry of oil and the government's commitment to provide an appropriate working environment for international companies to protect their investments throughout Iraq, including the northern governorates.
Earlier on Wednesday, Russia's Rosneft in a written announcement said they agreed with the Kurdish Regional Government of northern Iraq to undertake a geological exploration program and start pilot production in five blocks as early as 2018.