IRC: a co-operative pathway to shared ownership of Iraqi oil
by Anton Keller, Adviser of the Mosul Vilayet Council  -  swissbit@solami.com
"BPs [multi-billion $] asset sale programme will lure predators", the Sunday Times reported on June 20, 2010. That may include an international consortium of oil companies, owners of oil-bearing Iraqi land, and neighboring governments. In that, they may draw inspiration from Tamoil's strategy of selling its products also through its own network of gas stations in Europe.
The Iraq Resources Company (IRC)*), of course, is not going to be a rebirth of the Iraq Petroleum Company (IPC). It is not intended to be a vindicative or similarily motivated attempt to undo either the colonial practices or the nationalization reactions of a by-gone time. It will not either be allowed to serve as, or evolve into a camouflaged conduit for looting "nationalized" assets by small Saddams and their local and foreign cronies upholding oppressive power structures. And in both its orientation and actions, it will not be limited to matters related to Iraqi oil and gas, but encompass notably Iraq's water resources.

IRC is enrooted in Iraq's precedent-taking and still fully valid "fundamental law", ie its Declaration of May 30, 1932, with its comprehensive international minority and private property protection guarantees, which apply in particular to Iraq's Mosul Vilayet. IRC is equally inspired by Arab, Islamic and Ottoman laws and traditions, which reflect the advice attributed to Prophet Mohammed: "People are partners (shuraka') in three things: water, grass and fire [oil]." And while IRC thus is fully aligned with the principled stand taken by Iraq's valiant Minister of Oil, Hussain Al-Shahristani, when he negotiated the landmark cooperation agreements with suitable national (NOC) and international oil companies (IOC), IRC is also fully committed to uphold Iraq's obligations under international law with regard to respecting private property. As such it is in the vanguard to recognize the tribal, religious and other landowners' precedent-taking and internationally guaranteed trusteeship and property rights which cover mineral deposits.

The co-operation formula favored by ENI's visionary CEO Paolo Scaroni between NOCs and IOCs thus is at the heart of IRC, except that in the absence of an Iraqi petroleum law properly reflecting the above basic conditions, Iraq's NOCs cannot legally assume the responsibilities which are reserved to the true owners of the petroleum concerned. Meanwhile, the landowners in question are at liberty to associate themselves with suitable NOCs and IOC, and to jointly adapt and develop such strategic partnerships, including suitable acquisitions for exploration, production and marketing purposes as may come onto the market. And, notably with other riparian states, it may conclude oil-for-water and other mutually beneficial long-term agreements, which will serve all people of the Mosul Vilayet equitably and in the long run, with due consideration of the legitimate interests of the people of the Baghdad and the Basra Vilayets, as well as those of the partners involved.

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Iraq Petroleum Company, Wikipedia
The history of the British petroleum company: 1928-1954, Cambridge 1994, Ronald W. Ferrier, J. H. Bamberg
*)    tentative name of the Iraqi-controlled Swiss-based holding company
conceivable NOC & IOC partners, sharing 49% of IRC shares:
China
France
Germany
Iran
Iraq
Israel
Italy
Japan
Jordan
Norway
Russia
Switzerland
Syria
Turkey
United Kingdom
United States