Following an interview by the NRT news network on 13 October with former KRG Prime Minister Dr. Barham Salih, the Kurdistan Regional Government Ministry of Natural Resources (KRG MNR) would like to offer the following clarifications regarding Dr. Salih’s comments on oil and gas contracts during his time as Prime Minister of the KRG.
In the interview, Dr. Salih states that during his time in office (September 2009 to April 2012), 42 production sharing contracts (amounting to around 90% of all PSCs signed to date) were signed with International Oil Companies (IOCs) and were introduced by him for approval to the Kurdistan Parliament.
MNR would like to clarify that under the Kurdistan Oil & Gas Law of 2007, parliamentary approval of oil and gas contracts is not a legal requirement. Therefore, the Kurdistan Parliament has not in fact approved and does not need to approve any of the oil and gas contracts signed by the KRG. Under Kurdistan law, the approval mechanisms for production sharing and other oil and gas contracts are conducted by the Regional Council for Oil & Gas Affairs, which comprises the KRG Prime Minister, the Deputy Prime Minister, and the Ministers of Planning, Finance, and Natural Resources.
However, the oil and gas committee in the Kurdistan Parliament were presented with a number of PSCs at MNR's own initiative, supported by Dr. Salih, in order for them to carry out their own assessments, research and analysis.
Dr. Salih states in the interview that the signing and capacity building bonuses that were produced from the PSCs were used transparently by the KRG while he was the Prime Minister. This includes the allocation by Dr. Salih of more than $130 million to fund the American University of Iraq, Sulaimani ((AUIS). Dr. Salih noted that all the bonus monies were accounted for, and it should also be noted that the amount received by AUIS, as with all other oil bonus expenditures on behalf of KRG, are subject to the current independent third-party audit process of KRG oil and gas revenues.
Dr. Salih further states that he did not sign the long-term strategic energy agreement between the KRG and Turkey, but that during his term in office the current KRG Prime Minister, Nechirvan Barzani, went to Ankara in his capacity as Vice President of the KDP, taking with him the Minister of Natural Resources, to sign the agreement.
MNR is proud of this historic agreement, and would like to clarify that the strategic energy agreement between the KRG and Turkey was signed by Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani in 2013 in his capacity as the Prime Minister of the KRG and in the presence of President Erdogan. The then KRG deputy prime minister, Mr. Emad Ahmed, was also in attendance (in addition to other KRG officials, including Dr. Ashti Hawrami), when the strategic agreement was signed.
We hope that this clears up any misunderstandings that may have emerged from the former prime minister’s interview with NRT, and we do not wish to suggest that his comments were in any way intended to mislead.