Baghdad asks Kurds for information on “106 million oil barrels” it says have gone missing

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By Shaymaa Adel

Azzaman, December 27, 2013

Kurdish reports of their oil output and exports fail to account for 106 million barrels of oil, the Ministry of Finance says.

The ministry’s audit department has officially asked the regional Kurdish government in northern Iraq to account for the massive volume of oil it says it has gone missing and which at current prices is worth more than $10 billion.

“We could not trace 106 million barrels of oil produced by the Kurdish region. They have probably been smuggled abroad,” the department said in a statement.

The Kurds say they have the capacity to produce 400,000 barrels of oil per day at a time they need about 100,000 barrels a day for domestic consumption.

Hathem al-Jibouri, an MP from Prime Minister Noori al-Malik’s parliamentary bloc, said he attended several meetings arranged by the Finance Ministry attended by officials from the Kurdish region.

“We have repeatedly told the Kurds that they still need to account for 106 million barrels of oil,” he said. “The volume must have been smuggled abroad.”

The Kurds, he said, want to refer the matter to an international audit firm to examine their accounts of oil output in their region.

However, Jibouri said, the government should not allow “international firms meddle in local affairs because Iraq has its own audit department, which is considered one of the best in the region.”

The row has delayed budget approval by the parliament with deputies demanding a big slash in the share of oil royalties earmarked for the Kurdish region.

The Kurds receive 17% of the hard cash the country ears from oil exports.