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Iraq appoints oil minister as head of its national oil company

bz1709-Basra
Iraq named its oil minister Ishan Ismael as the head of a recently revived national oil company.

Mr Ismael, who was appointed to his ministerial role in June by Prime Minister Mustafa Al Kadhimi, will now head of the Iraq National Oil Company.

The INOC, which was established in 1966, has largely functioned in a nominal role. Regional companies such as the Kirkuk-based North Oil Company as well as the South Oil Company in Basra have been responsible for exploring and entering into partnerships to produce oil in Iraq.

In 2018, Iraq's parliament moved to revive the INOC, appointing former oil minister Jabbar Al Luaibi as its chief. The parliament passed a vague law in 2018 to revive the INOC, instituting it to be a "separate corporate entity enjoying financial and administrative autonomy, to be represented by the president or the authorised representative” and reporting to the council of ministers.

The INOC was supposed to have its head office in Baghdad, with branches in various oil-producing provinces. The law also mooted plans for the INOC to establish international offices with the approval of the Cabinet.

The appointment of Mr Ismael as the head of the INOC indicates Iraq's intent to advance a corporate strategy for a country that depends on oil to meet 90 per cent of its government revenue.

According to the 2018 law, the INOC was to be a vehicle to help ensure "the best exploitation of oil and gas wealth in the areas of oil and gas exploration, rehabilitation and development of oilfields, as well as producing, marketing and all activities".

The law also proposed to expand its role to include "investing in the oil and gas manufacturing industries on technical and economic bases to ensure the highest returns and lowest costs” for the benefit of the Iraqi people.

Mr Ismael was previously the director general of the state-run Basra Oil Company, overseeing the production and export of crude from Iraq’s southern oilfields.
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