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The central Iraqi government will meet with its Kurdish counterparts soon to talk about oil exports from the now semi-autonomous region that tried to gain independence last year.
Reuters reported, citing Iraq’s oil minister, Thamer Ghadhban, that the two sides will also discuss the increase of oil production from the fields around the northern city of Kirkuk by as much as 50 percent.
The fields around Kirkuk, as well as the city itself, were until the fall of 2017 under the control of the Kurdish government, although the area was not officially part of the Kurdistan region. However, after the ill-fated independence referendum, which led to a strong reaction from Baghdad, the central Iraqi authorities regained control of the oil fields that account for a sizeable portion of Iraq’s oil total.
Around 300,000 bpd of crude oil previously pumped and exported in the Kirkuk province to the Turkish port of Ceyhan were shut in when the Iraqi federal government moved in October 2017 to take control over the oil fields in Kirkuk from Kurdish forces after the semi-autonomous region held a referendum that Baghdad didn’t recognize.
However, the only export outlet of the Kirkuk oil is the oil pipeline of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG). The Iraqi federal government and the KRG had been in talks for months to try to reach an agreement on resuming Iraqi exports from Kirkuk. Iraq only resumed oil exports from the Kirkuk province a year after it had stopped the oil flows.
In separate but related news, Thamer Ghadhban said the country had enough oil production capacity to boost output to as much as 6 million bpd if need be, although right now he did not see a pressing need for more OPEC production despite the removal of U.S. sanction waivers for Iranian oil importers.
“We have plenty of time to assess the markets’ reaction,” the official said as quoted by Reuters, echoing an earlier statement by his Saudi counterpart, Khalid al-Falih.
By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com
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Irina is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing on the oil and gas industry.