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The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) is refusing to ship oil to Iran because Baghdad refused to consult the semiautonomous regime regarding the export program, according to a new report by Bloomberg.
Both the Iraqi government and the KRG pump oil from separate wells in Kirkuk, which makes controls over the region’s fossil fuel wealth difficult to mark clearly. Attacks by the Islamic State caused Iraqi forces to flee the area back in 2014. Since then, the Kurdish Peshmarga army has defended the region.
Ahmed al-Askari of the Kirkuk provincial council told Bloomberg over the phone that lack of communication from Baghdad caused the disagreement over the exports to Iran.
“Any oil deal, or discussions about the province’s output, without involving the Kirkuk governorate and its provincial council will not be successful,” the Kirkuk governor’s office added in an emailed statement.
Kurdistan plans to hold a referendum on its political independence from Iraq in late September. The proposal has angered Iran and Turkey – two neighboring countries with large Kurdish populations of their own.
A new KRG “will eventually include Kirkuk,” according to Dilshad Shaaban, a representative from the KRG parliament.
Baghdad intends to stymy the KRG’s relationship with Turkey through the Iran deal. By rerouting Kirkuk’s oil to Iranian refineries, less Kurdish oil will reach the Ceyhan port.
Similar conspiracies surround a related pipeline to Iran recently proposed by Baghdad.
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Over the weekend, Iran’s Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh said that Iraq and Iran had reached an agreement to commission a feasibility study of a crude oil pipeline that would export oil from fields in Kirkuk via Iran.
“In order to raise more legal problems in Kirkuk, Baghdad and Tehran have been trying for a long time to work on a pipeline to transport crude oil from the province to the Iranian territories,” Shaaban, who also serves as the deputy chairman of the Kurdistan Parliament’s natural resources committee, told Asharq Al-Awsat.
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…