Parliament vote signals uphill battle for Ismaael and INOC

A recent vote to remove the oil minister as the head of the Iraqi National Oil Company highlights political headwinds for Ihsan Ismaael's efforts to restructure the oil sector and maintain a foothold beyond the transition to a new government.
Iraqi Oil Minister Ihsan Ismaael speaks alongside senior ministry contracting officials during the bidding for the Mansuriya gas field on April 20, 2021. Sinopec won the bidding round. (Source: Oil Ministry media office)

BAGHDAD - Oil Minister Ihsan Ismaael’s efforts to resurrect the Iraqi National Oil Company (INOC) are facing increasing political opposition, raising doubts as to whether the fledgling company will survive in its current form after the upcoming transition to a new government.

The latest political attack came on Feb. 28, when the newly seated Parliament voted to remove Ismaael from his role as INOC president, which he has held along with his role as oil minister. The government does not appear to regard that vote as legally binding, but it highlights broader skepticism in Baghdad about the manner in which Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi's administration has handled the formation of INOC.

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