Iraq defends oil sector transparency


Nov. 2 (UPI) — Iraq said it was in a unique position as an oil producer in the region with its steadfast commitment to supporting transparency in the industry.

Iraqi Oil Ministry officials said Thursday the government was committed to the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative. Overall, the Iraqi oil minister said its release of information “always” included export data and its contribution to transparency was unparalleled in the region.

The EITI said last week that Iraq had made encouraging steps toward transparency in its oil exports, but was short of what’s needed to demonstrate adequate progress.

“Iraq will have 18 months to carry out corrective actions and will be temporarily suspended in the meantime,” the EITI board said in a statement.

Oil accounts for more than 90 percent of Iraq’s budget revenue, which the EITI said put the Middle East producer in a unique position when it comes to disclosing all of its sector information. For some metrics, like reporting oil sales on a cargo-by-cargo basis, the group said Iraq stands alone.

“Continued efforts are particularly noteworthy given the security situation in the country over the last decade and the broader political and regional circumstances,” the board’s statement read.

Iraqi forces this summer liberated northern federal provinces from the group calling itself the Islamic State. Full liberation from key cities like Mosul, meanwhile, coincided with a referendum of independence in the semiautonomous northern Kurdish provinces. Fighting broke out between both sides and the federal Iraqi government now claims control over the oil in Kirkuk, a territory of dispute between Kurdish and federal authorities.

Of the more than 30 metrics included on the EITI scorecard, Iraq was performing in at least “meaningful” ways in less than half. Good marks were given for monitoring production, though metrics like reporting the distribution of revenue were considered inadequate.