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Iraq And Kurds Agree To Restart Kirkuk Exports With Uncertain Timeline

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi and the Kurdish regime in Erbil have agreed on a plan to restart oil flows from Kirkuk, though neither party revealed the details of a timeline for the new flows, according to a new report by Reuters.

“It was agreed with the Kurdish side to start exporting oil from Kirkuk,” Abadi said during a scheduled press conference. The two sides are scheduled to sort out the details at a later time.

Authorities from the Kurdish Regional Government and Turkey have been conducting other negotiations regarding the Kirkuk-Ceyhan pipeline, which has been defunct since soon after the September 25 referendum on the minority government’s independence. Erbil’s constituents voted to secede from the union, triggering a strong response from Baghdad’s central government to reinstate federal control over oilfields in hands of the Peshmarga army.

Iraq began exporting up to 60,000 bpd of oil from Kirkuk this month to an Iranian refinery across the border via tanker trucks, in exchange for refined oil for southern Iraq, the acting director general of Iraq’s state oil marketing company SOMO, Alaa al-Yasiri, said at the end of January.

In the future, Iraq and Iran plan to build a new pipeline from the Kirkuk field to the border with Iran, to replace the tanker trucks. This suggests that although the initial term of the deal is just one year, there are plans to make it a longer-term deal. Baghdad will transport between 30,000 and 60,000 bpd of Kirkuk crude by tanker trucks to the border with Iran at Kermanshah. In exchange, Iran will supply the same amount of similar-grade crude to Iraq’s south.

SOMO’s crude oil exports had been running at an average rate of 3.5 million bpd in January, Alaa al-Yasiri told reporters at the end of last month. The January exports topped the record exports of 3.535 million bpd from December, Reuters quoted the SOMO official as saying.

By Zainab Calcuttawala for Oilprice.com

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