Kuwaiti MP slams oilfields project as ''sell-out''
A senior lawmaker charged Monday that the government's plan for foreign oil majors to develop the oilfields in northern Kuwait amounted to a "sell-out" of the emirate's resources.
A battle is being waged between local agents of international oil companies (IOCs) for a piece of the action in the seven-billion-dollar project, said MP Ahmad al-Saadun, a former speaker of parliament.
"From the data I have before me, I am certain the project is a sell-out for Kuwait", said Saadun who added "a fierce fight was raging between local agents of the IOCs" bidding for the project.
"Based on my calculations, local agents would make about 45 billion dollars over the next 30 years. The figure could even go up to $98 billion," said Saadun, adding he refused to remain silent while Kuwait's wealth was being fought over.
Saadun based his calculation on agents receiving a minimum of three dollars per barrel of oil extracted.
But the foreign minister who also chairs the Gulf emirate's Supreme Petroleum Council, Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah, called on Saadun to produce the evidence and promised to take action.
Also in its defence, Oil Minister Sheikh Saud Nasser al-Sabah said the project to double production in northern Kuwait to 900,000 barrels per day by 2005 was a huge investment in the emirate.
MPs have repeatedly expressed concern that influential Kuwaiti middlemen were set to benefit the most from the project and this could undermine the emirate's interests.
The Gulf Arab state's commercial law stipulates that a foreign-owned company must have a local agent to operate in Kuwait.
A parliamentary committee voted last May to exempt foreign oil companies from having to appoint local agents for the oil project, but the amendment has not reached the house.
Nine operator and 15 non-operator IOCs who have been prequalified for the project will be given access to specialised oil data from February 5, a top Kuwaiti oil executive said last week.
Foreign oil firms in Kuwait, which holds around 10 percent of global oil reserves, have previously been restricted to technical service agreements.—AFP.
©--Agence France Presse 2001.
© 2001 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)
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