Basra takes government to court as row over oil revenues widens

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By Khaula al-Ukaili

Azzaman, January 27, 2014

The Province of Basra has filed a lawsuit against the government, accusing it of illegally slashing its share from oil revenues, Basra Governor Majed Naser said.

Naser said the government was breaching the law by refusing to implement legislation under which his province was entitled to $5 per each barrel of oil it produces.

The so-called ‘petrodollar law’ was passed by the parliament. It allocates $5 per each barrel Iraqi provinces produce per day.

Basra is Iraq’s largest oil-producing province and sits on some of the world’s richest oil fields. It currently produces more than 2 million barrels of oil per day.

Naser said the government was funneling only $1 per barrel to his impoverished province at a time it was legally obliged to allocate $5 per barrel.

“We demand the government to earmark $5 to the province for each barrel it produces. We have strategic projects to implement in sectors like housing, health and electricity,” he said.

Iraq’s Supreme Court will examine the case and its ruling is binding to the government. Basra has hired a team of lawyers to defend its case.

Iraqi legal experts say Basra has a strong case as it is based on parliamentary legislation that has become law.

Jabar al-Shuwaili said the Province of Basra “has the right to sue the government” and ask for $5 per each barrel of oil it produces.

“The law organizing the national budget gives the provinces the right to earn $5 for each barrel their oil fields produce,” he said.