Dec 16 2013
By Nidhal al-Laithi
Azzaman, December 16, 2013
A senior Kurdish official has strongly criticized Husain al-Shahristani for his insistence on having Kurdish oil development and exports placed under central government control.
“Shahristani has no right to administer (Iraq’s) oil wealth on his own,” said Muhsen Saadoun, a Kurdish parliamentarian and a leading official in the Kurdish regional government in Arbil.
Shahristani is a deputy prime minister and in charge of the country’s natural resources, including oil.
He is known for his reiteration that the deals the Kurds have struck with foreign firms to develop oil in their areas are illegal and that oil development, output and exports are the sole responsibility of the central government in Baghdad.
But Saadoun said the Kurds disagreed with Shahristani and his interpretation of the constitution and that he was giving himself authority he did not enjoy.
“It is not acceptable for Husain Shahristani to administer Iraq’s oil wealth at a time he does not have an oil law,” said Saadoun.
He said the Kurds had the right to develop their oil and export it on their own.
Saadoun claimed that the project to construct a pipeline carrying Kurdish oil for exports was being “implemented on the ground” and that the Kurds “have reached an understanding with Turkey to extend the line to Ceyhan,” a Turkish oil terminal on the Mediterranean.
The Kurds say they have the capacity to produce 400,000 barrels a day, which can be boosted to nearly one million barrels by the end of 2014.
Relations between Iraq and Turkey have improved recently and it is not clear whether it will allow the Kurds to export oil via its territory without Baghdad’s approval.