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Iraqi oil minister Jabbar al-Luiebi is set to visit Turkey this week to discuss the future of the Ceyhan-Kirkuk oil pipeline, a statement from the Iraqi oil minister said on Monday, according to Reuters.
Turkey and Iraq are warming to each other as the two nations seek to undermine the ability of factions within their Kurdish minorities to further claims for an independent state.
Following the meeting, Iraqi oil shipments will be sold via the state marketer SOMO, the ministry’s statement added. Iraqi officials’ requests, which instruct Kurdish authorities to restart exports through the pipeline connecting Ceyhan directly, have fallen on deaf ears.
Iraqi forces took over the Bai Hassan and Avana fields near Kirkuk last year, following a referendum by the Kurdistan Regional Government to gain independence from Baghdad.
A day before the September vote, the Iraqi central government issued a statement calling on “neighboring countries and countries of the world” to stop buying crude oil directly from Kurdistan and only deal with Baghdad.
Russia’s oil majors side with Kurdistan in its quest for an independent fossil fuel establishment. Rosneft signed off on a $1 billion gas pipeline deal with Kurdish officials a week prior to the historic vote, signaling Moscow’s approval of a hypothetically separate Kurdistan.
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The Kurdish army, known as the Peshmerga, pulled out of Kirkuk months ago. Kurdish forces had originally seized the oil fields during the military campaign that drove Islamic State militants from the area a few years ago. Erbil, the capital of the KRG, disapproves of shipping Kirkuk’s oil to Iran as well because it undermines its authority in the region.
A pair of anonymous Iraqi officials told Reuters this month that a plan to strengthen Baghdad’s presence in the Hamrin mountain range, between Kirkuk’s oil fields and the border Iranian town of Khanaqin, will begin soon. The “White Flag” militia, composed of Sunni fighters fighting the Iraqi government, is rumored to have a base there, Kurdistan24 said.
By Zainab Calcuttawala for Oilprice.com
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Zainab Calcuttawala is an American journalist based in Morocco. She completed her undergraduate coursework at the University of Texas at Austin (Hook’em) and reports on…