Iraq’s Council of Ministers this week voted in favor of the massive South Iraq Integrated Project (SIIP) following a briefing on the progress of negotiations between the oil ministry and potential partners PetroChina and ExxonMobil.

On paper the council’s approval of a yet-to-be signed project means very little, but the mood music certainly suggests the parties are finally close to a breakthrough – especially given the relative pessimism on the project coming from Baghdad recently. Oil Minister Thamir al-Ghadhban told MEES just last month that “we have a meeting today. I hope it will be the last meeting, because we cannot carry on for long. There will be no signature today, but either we agree or not” (MEES, 12 April). (CONTINUED - 772 WORDS)