Speech on Iraqi Oil Law by Hassan Jumaa, leader of Iraq Federation of Oil Unions
The leader of Iraq’s powerful oil trade union has strongly criticised the Iraqi government’s plans to pass a law opening the country’s oil sector to multinational companies.
In a passionate speech to over 200 delegates at a conference on the new oil law in Basra this Tuesday, Hassan Jumaa warned that
“History will not forgive those who play recklessly with the wealth and destiny of a people.”
The conference was organised by the Iraq Federation of Oil Unions, in response to news that the Iraqi government’s Oil Committee is close to completing a draft Oil Law. The Iraqi parliament is expected to be asked to ratify the law by the end of March. The law would enable foreign companies to control the production, development and sale of Iraqi oil through long-term contracts – mostly likely the form known as Production Sharing Agreements. All Iraqi oil ministers since the invasion have advocated for the use of PSAs, as did the US State Department’s Future of Iraq Project energy working group on hydrocarbon policy in 2003.
Noting that the 2005 Constitution of Iraq states that oil and gas are the property of the Iraqi people, Hassan Jumaa argued that:
“This clause in the constitution will remain but ink on paper if the oil law and oil investment law being presented to the Parliament are ratified, laws which permit production-sharing contracts, laws without parallel in many oil producers, especially the neighbouring countries. So why should Iraqis want to introduce such contracts in Iraq given that applying such laws will rob the Iraqi government of the most important thing it owns?”
He stated that the union does not oppose the introduction of new technology by multinational companies, clarifying that the objection was to forms of investment which would give control to those companies. He concluded that
“Those who spread the word that the oil sector will not improve except with foreign capital and production-sharing are dreaming.”
The Iraqi Federation of Oil Unions (previously known as The General Union of Oil Employees) represents over 23,000 oil workers in the governorates of Misan, Dhi Qar, Basra and Mauthanna. Go to their website