Iraq 'Kneels': Moves to Form JV with Iran, Kuwait on al-Majnun Field

Despite the previous Middle East in-fighting regarding "shared fields," Iraqi Oil Minister Husayn al-Shahristani has said his country is ready to enter agreements with Iran and Kuwait to explore fields along the countries' shared borders.

An Iraqi government spokesman told Iraqi television audiences on Feb. 21 that al-Shahristani is certain Iran is not exploiting shared fields along the Iraqi/Iranian border. The Iraqi oil minister made the statement after visiting the fields in question.

"Iraq actually wants to enter into negotiations with neighboring Iran and Kuwait to be a party in an agreement on the joint exploitation" of the resources along the border.

The Iraqi spokesman said the area falls under the "unitization rule," what he referred to as an "international rule."

However, in an interview with al-Sharqiyah television, Former Iraqi Oil Minister Isam Chalabi said the al-Majnun field lies entirely inside the Iraqi border and should not be considered a shared resource. He added that in the 30 years since the field was discovered, "there was no talk in any way to the effect that there is something shared with Iran vis-a-vis the al-Majnun field."

Chalabi believes that the idea of the al-Majnun field being a "shared field" was propagated by the Iraqi Shi'ite-led government, who has claimed that there are six or seven wells shared by Iran and Iraq.

"Now we kneel and say: 'Yes. Let us talk to the Iranian side and form joint committees to give the rightful owners their rights.' These wells are Iraqi wells. Iraq should be in charge of the running, operation, and production of these wells," Chalabi said.

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