The new Iraqi prime minister on Thursday vowed in his government’s program to restore the country’s oil production and renegotiate contracts with international oil companies to reflect recent changes in the global markets.
Mustafa al-Kadhimi, Iraq’s former spy chief, was sworn in as prime minister earlier Thursday. Parliament approved 15 ministers out of a prospective 22-seat cabinet in a vote of confidence. Voting on the oil and foreign ministries was postponed because no candidates were determined.
In his government’s program, al-Kadhimi put special emphasis on oil policy and pledged to revitalize “Iraq’s oil production share which was reduced recently.”
According to this program, the government will also submit a draft on Iraqi National Oil Company Law and establish a team to negotiate changes to Iraq’s oil licensing rounds with oil companies to reflect recent developments in global markets.
Iraq has been roiled by mass protests since early October over poor living conditions and corruption, forcing Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi to resign.
At least 496 Iraqis have been killed and 17,000 have been injured since the protests began on Oct. 1, according to Iraq's High Commission for Human Rights.
Due to COVID-19, oil consumption around the world has weakened over the last few months. Along with oil-producing countries' ongoing pumping of crude at maximum levels, crude prices in April reached the lowest levels seen since 1999.
The price of Brent crude plummeted in April below $16 per barrel mark, from around $45 a barrel after Saudi Arabia-led OPEC and Russia spearheaded non-OPEC producers failed to reach a deal to further cut their oil production levels at their meeting in Vienna, Austria on March 6.
Since then, both countries have engaged in a price war for greater market share by increasing their output levels, with each aiming to drive one another and US shale oil producers out of the market.
By Sibel Morrow