Kuwait's new oil minister said Wednesday he will forge ahead on the controversial seven-billion-dollar project to develop the emirate's northern oilfields by international oil companies (IOCs).
"There is an agreement on the project at various government levels, including by the Supreme Petroleum Council, Kuwait Petroleum Corp. (KPC) and the council of ministers," Adel Khaled al-Sebeih, who was appointed oil minister in Wednesday's cabinet reshuffle, told AFP.
The project aims at doubling production in Kuwait's northern oilfields to 900,000 barrels per day.
The pro-Islamist minister, who last month survived a vote of no-confidence as minister of electricity and housing, said he is prepared to discuss with parliament any opposition to the project.
"I don't think there is a stiff opposition to the project. There is some opposition only to the procedures of implementation, which can be negotiated," Sebeih said. "This is the first such investment experiment in Kuwait", he said, adding it was natural there should be some difficulties.
His predecessor, Sheikh Saud Nasser al-Sabah, who opted out of the new cabinet, reportedly after declining an offer for a less important post, was met with stiff opposition over the project.
Last month, 29 MPs submitted a request for urgent talks on the project after KPC sent out Initial Process Protocols (IPPs) to 26 IOCs, and later opened the data room for specialised information on the project.
Parliament's legal committee on Monday ruled out that a government draft bill to regulate operation of IOCs in Kuwait was "unconstitutional because it violated several articles of the constitution."
Objections come mainly from the Islamic bloc in parliament, and other opposition groups who are concerned that the emirate's lifeline may fall in foreign hands.
But Sebeih said he is "very optimistic" about his ability to sort out differences with MPs and forge ahead with the project.—AFP.
©--Agence France Presse 2001.
© 2001 Mena Report (www.menareport.com )