Sep 8 2012
Azzaman, September 8, 2012
A fair meant to draw attention to the oil riches of the Iraqi Kurdish region has failed to attract international attention, according to organizers and Iraqi oil officials.
The fair, held in Arbil early this month only drew 50 firms while a similar exhibition to be held in Basra in the south by the end of this year has already registered more than 500 participants among them international majors.
The poor attendance is good news for Baghdad as it shows that its measures to prevent foreign firms from developing oil fields in the Kurdish north is bearing fruit.
“The reason for the unexpected low attendance is due to the current differences between the (Kurdish) region and Baghdad,” said Mohammed Sharif, one of the organizers.
Oil Ministry spokesperson Asem Jihad declined comment on the low attendance, saying that the responsibility for organizing the fair should be shouldered by the Kurdish regional administration.
The central government in Baghdad is adamant not to let the Kurds have a say in the development of oil fields in their region and has repeatedly said the contracts the Kurds have signed so far are illegal.
The Kurds have struck scores of contracts with foreign firms, increasing the region’s oil production capacity up to 200,000 barrels a day.
But the crude cannot be exported to international markets as the Kurds refuse to ship it via Iraqi pipelines due to differences on how to share its revenues.
Baghdad has warned foreign oil firms with contracts with Iraqi Kurds to rescind their deals or face being shunned all activity in the country.
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