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The HOA defines the south of Iraq as the southernmost province and the oil and gas capital of Basra, though a map appendix to the HOA shows the contract territory extending for an unknown distance into the Persian Gulf.

In addition, the document says the joint venture can be extended to “any other areas as may be agreed by [Shell and the Oil Ministry].”

While the HOA does not bind the ministry and Shell to create the joint venture, it is a legal contract for 12 months, with a six-month automatic extension, during which it restricts the Iraqi Oil Ministry from negotiating with any other company or carrying out any work that could be interpreted as competing with Shell.

A six-member Joint Management Committee, with equal representation from Iraq and Shell, was due to begin work Oct. 22. All of the JMC decisions must be unanimous, though only one person each from the ministry and Shell is required for a quorum.

The JMC will determine “activities” of the joint venture, and Shell and the Oil Ministry will work together “in good faith with each other and shall not participate in any similar activities with any third parties.”