Oil conglomerate Kuwait Petroleum Corp. (KPC) on Sunday played down a request by MPs to debate allowing foreign companies access to data on northern oilfields.
"There is no opposition to the project in principle, even within parliament. Only different views on constitutional issues that could be settled with the assembly," KPC said in a statement.
Twenty-nine MPs submitted the request Saturday and charged that by sending the Initial Protocol Process (IPP) to oil majors and opening data rooms, the government intended to sign agreements with the companies even without parliament's approval.
"There is no intention to act unilaterally or sign anything until the whole process of constitutional matters is resolved within the approved plan," said the KPC statement sent to AFP.
"The sending of the IPP is a purely procedural matter, with government prerogative including opening the data rooms."
State-owned KPC sent an IPP on January 3 to pre-qualified international oil companies (IOCs) despite opposition from parliament.
KPC managing director Nader Sultan said last month that data rooms containing specialised information on the oilfields would be opened on February 5 after the IOCs signed "confidentiality papers."
The request for a debate will be listed on parliament's next session Monday, but it is unlikely to be discussed soon because of the cabinet's resignation.
An oil official told AFP that the KPC still planned to open the data rooms despite the intervention of MPs.
Although the list of IOCs has not been officially announced, it is widely believed that KPC has pre-qualified BP Amoco, Chevron, Conoco, ENI, Exxon Mobil, Phillips, Shell, Texaco and TotalFinaElf as operators for the project.
Legislation on the "Kuwait Project", submitted by the government to parliament last April, rules out any foreign ownership of the emirate's natural resources.
"Legislation intends to regulate this (seven-billion-dollar) project and other projects," said the KPC statement.
Kuwait, whose OPEC quota from February 1 dropped to 2.021 million barrels per day (bpd), aims to double production capacity of its northern oilfields to 900,000 bpd by 2005, and insists that this can only be achieved through foreign assistance. — (AFP)
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