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Iraqi MP wants reported purchase of oil shares of Kurdistan minister probed
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08:12, September 28, 2009

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An Iraqi legislator on Sunday called to set up a parliamentary committee to investigate media reports about a Kurdish minister's illegal purchase of shares in the Norwegian oil giant DNO International, which works in the Iraqi autonomous region of Kurdistan.

"If proved right, this matter would be deemed as breach of both the constitution and the law, and then the parliament would be entitled to investigate these claims," Abdul-Hadi al-Hassani, head of the Iraqi parliament's oil and gas committee, told reporters.

On Sept. 18, 2009, the Oslo Stock Exchange revealed that DNO secretly sold shares worth 35 million U.S. dollars to the Kurdistan Regional Government's (KRG) minister of natural resources Ashti Hawrami in 2008, something deemed by the Norwegian bourse as "violation" of its laws.

"No government official who owns shares in a global company working in Iraq may be the negotiating party with it on behalf of Iraq," stressed Hassani.

Norway's oil company DNO was reportedly trying to settle its differences with the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) authorities after its activities were suspended in the autonomous region for six weeks.

The Norwegian firm fears it might be denied work in the Iraqi Kurdistan region after its shares in the Oslo Stock Exchange dropped by 55 percent on Thursday, according to a statement by the company, which said that it was discussing ways with the KRG to resolve the problem as soon as possible.

The Kurdistan authorities said their reputation was "unjustifiably severely tarnished" in the wake of differences between the Norwegian company and the Oslo Stock Exchange regarding information about the sale of 44 million of DNO shares on Oct. 1, 2008.

DNO said it was ready to take legal measures against the Oslo Stock Exchange which it believes it has violated the rules of confidentiality by revealing the name of the shares buyer.

The Oslo bourse has denied over and again that it has committed any violations.

DNO International ASA is Norway's fourth largest petroleum company with upstream operations in the North Sea, Middle East and Africa. The company, headquartered in Oslo and listed on the OsloStock Exchange, is a result of the merger between Pertra and DNO's Norwegian business.

DNO is one of many foreign oil corporations that have signed contracts with the Iraqi Kurdistan region to develop oilfields despite outcries from the federal Iraqi government prior to sanctioning the export of 100,000 barrels of crude oil per day (bpd) via pipelines to Turkey last June.

The Norwegian firm is developing north Iraq's Tawki oilfield, which produces 40,000 to 50,000 bpd.


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