The Iraqi Cabinet approved a long-awaited draft oil law on Monday, sending it to parliament for consideration, the prime minister said, calling the agreement "another founding stone in state-building."

Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s government had promised a new oil law by the end of 2006 but missed the deadline due to objections from the Kurds, and it faced pressure from the Bush administration to come through. Many of Iraq’s vast oil reserves can be found in the Kurdish north and the Shiite south, and the Kurds wanted a greater role in awarding contracts and administering the revenues.

Al-Maliki said Monday’s agreement was an important step toward encouraging investment in the country’s battered oil industry.

“Thanks be to God, the Iraqi government has laid another founding stone in state-building – the law of oil and gas – which will be beneficial to Iraqis of all sects and ethnicities,” he said.

He said the law will be referred to the 275-member parliament for approval.

"This law will guarantee for Iraqis, not just now but for future generations too, complete national control over this natural wealth," Oil Minister Hussain al-Shahristani said.
(The Guardian)