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#Oil and Gas

IRIS Releases Report on Iraq and KRG Energy Policies

The Institute of Regional and International Studies (IRIS) at the American University of Iraq, Sulaimani’s (AUIS) has released its first IRIS fellowship report, “Iraq and the KRG Energy Policies: Actors, Challenges and Opportunities.” The report was written by IRIS fellow and AUIS assistant professor, Bilal Wahab. The report is available for download here. The report describes the tensions regarding petroleum policy between Baghdad and the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), as well as examining possible solutions for overcoming challenges in energy policy that are hampering stability, economic development and security in the region. “Decisions made about Iraq's oil and gas wealth will have a large impact on future generations. Consequently, it is of paramount importance that the oil debate be opened up and widened to include non-governmental sectors such academia and civil society,” said Wahab. “I am pleased with AUIS and IRIS's opportunity to contribute to the public debate regarding Iraq's and KRG's post-2003 energy policies and industries.” In the report, Wahab argues that putting Iraq and the KRG's oil dependent economies on autopilot will result in disaster. He asserts that careful steering of the industry is necessary to ensure that oil will fuel prosperity rather than stagnate the country's political and economic development.  Additionally, he contends that competing interpretations of Iraq’s constitution and different visions for the country's future have stymied the efforts to rebuild the energy sector on solid legal and economic foundations. In the absence of cooperation between the federal Iraqi and Kurdistan region governments, unilateral actions by both sides will deepen disagreements, further politicize a natural resource, and internationalize an Iraqi internal dispute, says Wahab. Wahab was the first recipient of IRIS's annual faculty fellowship, which was awarded in September 2013. The report analyzes data that Wahab gathered through several public panels and private roundtables conducted last year with government, civil society, and industry representatives. Participants included Asos Hardi, founder of Kurdish newspaper Hawlati; Murat Özçelik, former Turkish Ambassador to Iraq; Ben Lando, CEO and founder of Iraq Oil Report; Brad Camp, president of DARB Global; Shakir Wajid, Country Manager of Dana Gas and Luay Al Khateeb, Director of Iraq Energy Institute. The findings of the report are particularly relevant at this time. In recent weeks, oil relations between Baghdad, Erbil, and Ankara have reached a new level of political brinkmanship. The first super tanker of Iraqi Kurdish oil departed from Turkey last week, despite warnings and threats from Baghdad not to proceed with the sale. As a result, Baghdad has requested legal arbitration in a dispute with Turkey over its decision to sell Iraqi Kurdish oil. American University of Iraq, Sulaimani was founded in 2007 as an independent, non-profit, American-style institution of higher learning. The University provides broad-based education, rooted in the American liberal arts tradition. Its programs are designed to develop critical thinking, the ability to communicate well, a strong work ethic, good citizenship and personal integrity, preparing students for successful careers in a modern, pluralistic society, and in a global environment.
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