Opposition to foreign oil majors gains momentum in Kuwait
Opposition to foreign oil companies investing in Kuwait's northern oilfields gained momentum Monday as a parliamentary panel said a government draft bill to regulate the companies' role violated the constitution.
"The committee has found that ... the draft bill violates articles 50, 134 and 152 of the constitution," MP Abdullah al-Rumhi, head of parliament's legal and legislative committee, said in a statement.
The articles stipulate, among other things, that any investment in Kuwait's natural resources must be done only through a law for a defined period, and that transparency and competition must be guaranteed.
The legislation drafted for the proposed seven billion-dollar investment by foreign oil majors, which was presented to parliament last April, ruled out any foreign ownership of Kuwait's natural resources.
Investors will be offered 20-year agreements which are extendable by two five-year periods, but at least 70 percent of the workforce employed must be Kuwaiti nationals, which can be reduced by the government, according to the bill.
The committee called on the government to "rectify the constitutional suspicions" in the bill. Kuwait Petroleum Corp. (KPC) last month sent Initial Process Protocols (IPPs) to prequalified oil companies and last Monday gave them access to specialized oil data for the development of northern oilfields.
But 29 MPs have called for a debate on the IPPs sent out to oil majors and the process of opening the data room, charging that the government intended to sign agreements with the companies without parliament's approval.
The role of local agents in the project was strongly criticized by MPs, who charged that the agents will get more than 45 billion dollars over 30 years.
According to Oil Minister Sheikh Saud Nasser al-Sabah, KPC has prequalified nine operator and 17 non-operator foreign companies for the project.
Sheikh Saud named the operators as Shell, ExxonMobil, BP Amoco, ENI, TotalFinaElf, Chevron, Texaco, Conoco and Phillips.
KPC has stressed there was no intention of acting unilaterally or signing any agreements until the project met constitutional demands.—AFP.
©--Agence France Presse 2001.
© 2001 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)