Iraq’s cabinet has approved a new draft hydrocarbons law, which would govern the country’s oil and gas sector and has asked parliament to disregard the previously drafted version that had languished in parliament since 2007.

In a statement to the press, government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said the cabinet had “approved the draft oil and gas law and transferred it to parliament”, AFP news agency reports.

No details of the new law have been released, but according to the statement, it “voids all previous draft laws”.

The parliamentary Oil & Energy Committee, chaired by Adnan al-Janabi, submitted an amended draft of the law in mid-July which received its first reading in August. However, some parliamentarians walked out of the session. Parliament is set to resume on 6 September.

The Committee is seeking to hold off the signing of any further oil and gas contracts until the passing of two key pieces of legislation, a move that could delay the Oil Ministry’s plans for the country’s oil sector (MEED 8:7:11).

Iraq has so far signed 11 oil field licensing contracts with international oil companies (IOCs) in a bid to increase production capacity to more than 12 million barrels a day (b/d) by 2017, from 2.7 million b/d currently. The original draft law was proposed in 2007, but has not been passed due to politicised disputes over the distribution of power between the federal and provincial governments, as well as the role of IOCs.