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Kirkuk will not allow the Iraqi government to ship its fuel to Iran via trucks if negotiations between the Kurdish Regional Government and Baghdad over oil exports fail to bear fruit, Governor Najmuddin Karim said in a statement on Thursday.
The Kirkuk governor put the issue in an economic context, arguing that the Iraqi government should have to pay penalty fees to Kirkuk for using an environmentally unfriendly way to transport crude - which affects the province's air quality and wears down its roads.
“They [Iraqi federal government] want to send Kirkuk oil to Iran through tankers, not pipelines,” the statement read. “We won’t let tankers take Kirkuk oil to Iran.”
According to Kurdistan 24, Karim also said that Baghdad owed the province large payments for its oil. He added that he hoped the central government would follow through on its financial commitments.
The governor added that Baghdad would have to heed conditions set by Kirkuk before local officials would allow a single truck of oil to leave the province’s borders.
Iraq resumed Kirkuk crude transfers to Kurdistan earlier this month at half the volume of previous shipments.
Three tankers that shipped crude from Kurdistan were blacklisted earlier this week by the Iraqi State Organization for the Marketing of Oil (SOMO) in a move designed to increase pressure on the KRG as its bilateral talks with Baghdad continued.
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The KRG’s Peshmarga army played a large role in freeing Kirkuk from the Islamic State’s grip, and the Kurdish military has assisted law enforcement in eliminating terrorist threats to the province’s oil facilities in recent weeks.
“The Peshmerga have been very successful in stopping the cells from coming [into Kirkuk],” Sarhad Kadir, head of Kirkuk sub-area police, told Rudaw, a local news source. “ISIS had the ability to bring bombs into Kirkuk and security forces struggled to stop it [in the past].”
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…