Oil-rich Basra warns against cut in its share of oil royalties

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By Shaymaa Adel

Azzaman, January 18, 2014

Basra has warned the government against a proposed reduction in its share from the country’s oil revenues.

The Province of Basra has Iraq’s most prolific oil fields and is the largest contributor to the country’s oil output estimated at 2.7 million barrels of per day.

The province, like any other oil-producing region, has been entitled to $2 for each barrel of oil it produces.

The provincial authorities had asked the government to raise the so-called petrodollar scheme to $5 per barrel.

But instead of heeding the demand, the government has decided to slash Basra’s share to $1 from $2.

The tribes in the province have threatened to march to Baghdad and stage a sit-in at the government’s   headquarters unless their province’s demand for a $5 per each barrel of oil is met.

Deputy Governor Mohammed al-Tameemi is reported to be mobilizing Basra tribes and inhabitants for what he described as a massive demonstration against the government.

Tameemi said the demonstrators would transfer their protest to Baghdad and would stay there until their demands are met.

Oil-producing regions are demanding more money and powers, the thing the government is trying to resist. The government says exploitation of natural resources is a prerogative it will not surrender to regions and provinces under any circumstances.

Iraqi Kurds and their semi-dependent enclave in northern Iraq are at odds with the government over oil exports, the royalties of which they want to ferry to their own coffers.

The government says the Kurdish move is illegal and has vowed to punish the Kurds financially if they went ahead with plans to export oil on their own.