Monday, August 6, 2007
"Iraqis oppose plans to open the country’s oilfields to foreign investment by a factor of two to one, according to a poll released today. Iraqis are united in this view: there are no ethnic, sectarian or geographical groups that prefer foreign companies.
The poll also finds that most Iraqis feel kept in the dark about the oil plans – with fewer than a quarter feeling adequately informed about a proposed new law to govern Iraq’s oil sector.
This poll is the first time ordinary Iraqis have been asked their views on the contents of the oil law, which has been debated by Iraqi political parties for over a year. The US government is pressing Baghdad to pass the oil law by September, as one of its “benchmarks”......
Yet 63% of poll respondents said they would prefer Iraq’s oil to be developed and produced by Iraqi public sector companies rather than foreign companies, with 32% of those indicating a strong preference. Only 10% strongly preferred foreign companies, and 21% moderately.
Only 4% of Iraqis feel they have been given ‘totally adequate’ information for them to feel informed about the oil law. A further 20% describe information provision as ‘somewhat adequate’, and 76% as inadequate.....
“The lack of credible information on the content and consequences of the draft Oil Law and on the debate surrounding the future of Iraq’s oil resources is likely to undercut the legitimacy of both the process and any law that it ultimately produces” and
“Any law that appears to favor foreign companies at the expense of indigenous firms is likely to meet with significant resistance on the Iraqi street.”
The lack of information is especially significant, given that those most informed about the oil law plans are the strongest opponents. Last month, more than 100 of Iraq’s most senior oil experts wrote to the parliament, calling for changes to the oil law. Meanwhile, workers in the oil sector have been consistently critical of the law......"