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Kurdistan Says It Can Help Ease Europe's Oil Shortage

The semi-autonomous Iraqi region of Kurdistan has the capacity now to make up for at least some of the shortfalls of oil in Europe if the federal Iraqi government supports Kurdistan, Masrour Barzani, Prime Minister of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, said on Monday.  

"We in Kurdistan have the capacity now to make up for at least some of the shortfalls of oil in Europe if our partners in Baghdad are prepared to work with us," Barzani said on Twitter, conveying part of his speech at the Atlantic Council Global Energy Forum in Dubai today.  

"We will become a net exporter of gas to the rest of Iraq, Turkey, and Europe in the near future, and help meet their energy security needs," Barzani said.

"I'm confident that Kurdistan will soon become an important source of energy for the world's growing demand," the Kurdish prime minister added.

According to Barzani, the Kurdistan Region has grown its energy production over the last decade and a half, and the semi-autonomous region in Iraq now produces and exports around 500,000 barrels per day (bpd) of oil and produces almost half a billion cubic feet of gas per day, with the potential to grow both.

"We have a tremendous opportunity to provide for both domestic and global markets, and we are determined to transform Kurdistan into an energy hub of our region," said the Kurdish prime minister, noting that the region considers "unconstitutional and blatantly political" a recent ruling by the Iraqi federal court to challenge Kurdistan's right to develop its oil resources.

Last month, the Supreme Court of the Federal Government of Iraq ruled that sales of oil and gas by Kurdistan, independent of the central government in Baghdad, is unconstitutional and that the KRG must hand over all oil production to the Federal Government of Iraq. The court also ruled that the Ministry of Oil has the right to: "Follow up on the invalidity of oil contracts concluded by the Kurdistan Regional Government with foreign parties, countries and companies regarding oil exploration, extraction, export and sale."

Kurdistan's PM Barzani assured the international oil companies today that "we remain committed to the contracts that have been signed with my government. The contracts are in line with our oil and gas law and the Iraqi Constitution and they are a bedrock of our shared future."

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By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com

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