AFP : Iraq fires head of state-owned oil company

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Iraq fires head of state-owned oil company

AFP | July 30, 2009

BAGHDAD — The Iraqi government has fired the head of state-owned South Oil Company (SOC), who publicly criticised Baghdad's auctioning off of oil and gas fields to foreign energy giants, an oil ministry spokesman said on Thursday.

Fayadh Hassan Nima was replaced as SOC's chief executive by the head of the company's department of oil fields, Dia Jaafar, ministry spokesman Assem Jihad said.

"The oil ministry and the government are always looking for ways to improve administration of the oil sector," Jihad said, referring to the reasons Nima was dismissed.

Nima had loudly protested the public auction for six giant oil fields and two major gas fields, arguing that the SOC should be given the task of exploiting the fields in southern Iraq with only technical assistance from foreign companies.

Baghdad held the sale at the end of June, but reached agreement on only one of the fields, with the government facing accusations that the sale had been a failure.

It was the first time Iraq's oil industry was opened up to foreign companies since its nationalisation four decades ago.

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