Kuwait parliament decided Monday to hold a special debate to quiz the government over steps it has taken to bring in foreign oil majors to develop fields in the north of the emirate.
The decision to hold the debate Wednesday came in the wake of two motions submitted by a total of 40 MPs in the 50-member house and despite a government assurance that it would not take any action contravening the constitution.
It will be the first confrontation between Kuwait's new Oil Minister Adel al-Sebeih and MPs opposed to the controversial seven-billion-dollar investment project.
Foreign Minister Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah tried to assure the house the government "would not take any procedures without the assembly's consent."
"They will hear from us what they are looking for, because we will not do anything that contravenes the law and the constitution," Sheikh Sabah later told reporters in parliament.
But Islamist MP Nasser al-Sane, who spearheaded a campaign against former oil minister Sheikh Saud Nasser al-Sabah, charged that procedures taken by Kuwait Petroleum Corp. (KPC) ran against the constitution.
Sebeih said after his appointment that he was committed to forging ahead with the project, but expressed readiness to negotiate with MPs any differences on procedures.
The project aims at doubling production of the northern oilfields to 900,000 barrels per day in 2005.
State-owned conglomerate KPC has prequalified 26 foreign firms and sent out an Initial Process Protocol (IPP) to them on January 3. On February 5, it opened the data room for specialized 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 )