Iraqi Kurdistan to raise oil exports in 2013 on conditions

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An oil worker tending to a supply pipeline in Iraqi Kurdistan. Photo – AFP

Kurdistan regional government said it is ready to export 250,000 barrels of oil per day (bpd) in 2013 if the central government pays the autonomous region’s operators. The move is widely been seen as an effort to ease dispute over control of Iraq’s crude.

Erbil halted shipments of its oil in April in protest over what it said was Baghdad’s failure to pay foreign oil companies, but resumed exports after reaching an initial deal in September.

The agreement was reached during a visit to Baghdad by a Kurdish delegation, which met ministers from Al Maliki administration to iron out disagreements over the 2013 draft national budget.

Current Iraqi Kurdistan shipments are around 140,000 barrels per day and are expected to rise to 200,000 bpd by the end of the year.

“The two sides agreed for Kurdistan to export 250,000 barrels of oil per day on the condition that the Iraqi government makes payments to the oil companies in Kurdistan,” the KRG said in a statement issued in Arabic.

Baghdad and Erbil, along with oil giants like Exxon Mobil, Chevron and Total, are locked in a dispute over payments, control of oil and contested territories.

The Iraqi central government terms the deals signed between Kurdistan and oil companies as illegal and has blacklisted some that have ventured into the northern Kurdish region.

Kurdistan insists it has the right to grant contracts to foreign companies which was enshrined in the Iraqi constitution, drawn up following the 2003 invasion that ousted former leader Saddam Hussein.

The Kurdish Regional Government has since passed its own oil and gas law whilst disagreements prolong among Iraq’s Sunni, Shia and Kurdish factions in the national power-sharing government. The country is yet to have a unified hydrocarbons law aimed at ending disputes between the two regions over crude resources.

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