Kuwait's new oil minister faces early test on role of foreign firms
Kuwait's new Oil Minister Adel al-Sebeih faces an early test in parliament by MPs opposed to the government's plan to bring in foreign oil majors to develop fields in the north of the emirate.
Eleven MPs, headed by former speaker Ahmad al-Saadun, called Sunday for a comprehensive debate on the seven-billion-dollar investment "to review all procedures made so far by the government" in implementing the project.
Twenty-nine MPs signed a similar request earlier this month when Sheikh Saud Nasser al-Sabah was still the oil minister, before the February 14 formation of a new government.
The appointment of the pro-Islamist Sebeih as oil minister appears to have paid off immediately as none of the Islamic MPs, who traditionally oppose the project, signed the new motion.
But leading Islamic MP Nasser al-Sane said the Islamic bloc would continue to request more information on the project to ensure it entailed no constitutional violations.
Sebeih said after his appointment that he was committed to forge ahead with the project, but expressed readiness to negotiate with MPs any differences on procedures.
In January, the new oil minister survived a vote of no-confidence when he was housing minister. All the 11 MPs who signed the latest request had voted against him. The project aims at doubling production of the northern oilfields to 900,000 barrels per day in 2005.
State-owned conglomerate Kuwait Petroleum Corp. (KPC) has prequalified 26 foreign firms and sent out Initial Process Protocol (IPP) to them on January 3. On February 5, it opened the data room for specialised information on the project.
BP Amoco, Chevron, Conoco, ENI, Exxon Mobil, Phillips, Shell, Texaco and TotalFinaElf were prequalified as operators for the project.
Parliament's legal committee on February 12 said that a government draft bill to regulate the operation of international oil companies in Kuwait was "unconstitutional because it violated several articles of the constitution."—AFP.
©--Agence France Presse 2001.
© 2001 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)
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