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The Iraqi Oil Ministry has banned the use of Kurdish words in official documents, threatening Kurdish employees with lawsuits if they violate the ban, Kurdish media report, citing a document issued earlier this week by a senior Oil Ministry Official.
“There are Kurdish terms used in most of the documents the NGC submits which is against the motion issued in 1968 to maintain the safety of the Arabic language,” Hamdan Uwaij Rashid, General Inspector at the Oil Ministry said in the statement, which was addressed to the North Gas Company.
Apparently, the document is a follow-up on another one, issued by the Iraqi Secretariat of the Council of Ministers, which was circulated to all Iraqi institutions in August 2017. Interestingly enough, this was before the historic Kurdistan independence referendum that heated up relations between Erbil and Baghdad and eventually led to Iraqi forces retaking control of the city of Kirkuk and the surrounding fields from the Kurdish Peshmerga.
The Kurdistan Regional Government estimates local crude oil reserves at some 45 billion barrels—this puts Kurdistan ahead of Nigeria in terms of reserves and what’s more, this oil is cheap to pump. According to figures for 2016, Kurdistan pumped about half a million barrels daily, which was expected to rise to above 600,000 in 2017. Most of this is exported to Turkey, but since the Iraqi government took over the Kirkuk fields, some 300,000 bpd in production has been shut in.
Earlier this week, Kurdish officials said Iraq cannot export the Kirkuk oil to Turkey without first inking a deal with the KRG, following reports that Iraq’s Haideer al-Abadi and Turkey’s Recep Erdogan had struck an agreement for the resumption of Kirkuk oil exports to Turkey. The message from Erbil suggests relations between the central government and the Kurdistan authorities have yet to settle.
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.