Talabani: Russia’s decision is a historic turning point.
Russia agreed in February to write off $12 billion of Iraqi debt in an apparent effort to help Russian companies including Lukoil to win contracts in Iraq. The debt was taken on by the regime of former leader Saddam Hussein to purchase military equipment and supplies. Russia opposed the US-led invasion of Iraq, a country with the potential to produce more than 5 million barrels of crude oil a day.
The US welcomed Russia’s move, saying it would free up money for rebuilding. The major US and European oil companies are still hopeful of winning major long-term oil contracts in Iraq under open and transparent competitive bidding. It is unclear, however, if a level playing field is possible in a country with a weak and corrupt government.
Iraq awarded $1.1 billion in contracts to Iranian and Chinese companies last October to build two big power plants after the US-led reconstruction effort failed to provide electricity to most parts of the country for more than a few hours a day.