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Oil in Iraq: basic issues, development and discourse

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Debating oil issues and oil policy among Iraqis has always been vibrant, interesting, rich and heated. This is simply a reflection of the centrality that oil usually occupies in the economy and society and thus mainstream national thinking, on one hand, and the serious developments that have taken place pertaining to petroleum sector, on the other. The ongoing discourse over key oil issues in the country has, since late 2006, been characterized as issue-driven in somewhat sequential chronological order. The debate appears to have been more reactive to actions taken by the government than a proactive guide to effect policy formulation. Hence the debate generally has opposing tendencies. The opposition was mainly from outside the governing establishment, taking collective forms in the beginning but moving gradually into Internet-networking and professional publication. This was due to the fact that most of the contributions were made by Iraqis living outside the country – a somewhat positive effect of brain drain, through voluntary 'distance think tank' or voluntary 'outsourcing consultancy service', which provide professional opinions on related matters in their homeland. Effective opposition from within became apparent during the last quarter of 2009. Also, the judiciary was involved to draw the line of legality between the executive and legislative branches, which could have far-reaching ramifications on a wide range of oil issues. This article aims at shedding more light on, and provides an in-depth critical analysis of, various developments relating to key oil issues. It further argues that though the debate and concern would continue unabated on the same issues, it predicts and indeed calls for the debate to move from the general to more issue and sub-issue specifics, proactive and with policy objectives orientations.
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Keywords: Bid Rounds; Constitution; Iraq; KRG; Oil Law; Service Contracts

Document Type: Review Article

Publication date: August 1, 2010

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  • The International Journal of Contemporary Iraqi Studies is a new peer-reviewed, tri- annual, academic publication devoted to the study of modern Iraq. In recognition of Iraq's increasingly important position on the world stage, the time is right for a new journal dedicated to scholarly engagement with the country.
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