Jan 28 2013
By Shaymaa Adel
Azzaman, January 28, 2013
Iraq has issued a stern warning to Kurds over their attempts to export large quantities of crude oil to Turkey.
“This is a red line,” warned Iraqi Oil Minister Abdulkareem al-Aibi.
The warning came as the minister was briefing the local press on the surge in the country’s oil output and export capabilities.
The Kurdish region, comprising the three northern provinces of Dahouk, Arbil and Sulaimaniya, is embroiled in differences with the central government in Baghdad.
The sides do not see many issues eye-to-eye including the fate of the so-called disputed territories among them the oil-rich city of Kirkuk.
Oil is the bone of contention and the Kurds have angered the central government by proceeding ahead with the development of oil fields and contracts with foreign firms without Baghdad’s approval.
But the latest row over oil exports seems to have deepened following reports that the Kurds were exporting oil to Turkey and in large quantities.
“The Kurds are under obligation to ferry all the oil they produce to the national export systems,” said the minister. “But unfortunately this is not the case.”
He said: “Our oil differences are exacerbating.”
The Kurds say they can produce up to 200,000 barrels a day but the dispute over how to export the volume and who will collect the royalties have not made it possible to add the volume to Iraq’s surging oil exports.
There are no confirmed reports of the volume of crude oil the Kurds are shipping to Turkey, but the minister said the government would not tolerate any action by the Kurds to export their oil to neighboring states.