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Goodwill gesture’ has been offered by Iraqi Kurdistan region for solving oil disputes with Baghdad

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After the bitter dispute with Baghdad, regarding the general budget of Iraq, the autonomous Kurdistan region of Iraq has announced that it will resume oil exports of 100,000 barrels a day via the Iraqi pipeline network starting on April 1.
Kurdistan prime minister said, “As a goodwill gesture the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) has offered to make a contribution to the Iraqi oil pipeline exports to give the negotiations (with Baghdad) the maximum chance of success.”
He also added, “The KRG contribution to oil export will be 100,000 barrels per day effective from 1st April 2014, and will continue while the negotiations are proceeding in a positive direction.” He said there were no immediate strings attached to the exports, which will go through the Iraq-Turkey pipeline (ITP).
The KRG suspended exports through the ITP in December 2012, in a dispute arising from the central government’s refusal to pay foreign oil companies that had signed direct exploration and production contracts with the KRG.
The matter got worsened after Erbil signed a comprehensive deal for independent oil exports to Turkey, in which the KRG would control exports and revenues but Baghdad would get its constitutional lion’s share of the income. Naturally, Baghdad was ardent too over its stand and it wanted the control of all revenues that will be generated through oil exports.
Mr. Barzani further added, “The negotiations with Baghdad on oil export and budgetary matters are ongoing. These negotiations have not yet resulted in any acceptable agreements.” Barzani has made three unreciprocated visits to Baghdad since December 2013 in hopes of finding solutions.
“In the coming weeks, the KRG will seek to study a full settlement with Baghdad on a mechanism in which the KRG’s oil exports and oil sales revenues are managed and controlled,” he said in his latest comments on the matter.
The KRG initiative comes a after Brett McGurk, the US deputy assistant secretary of state for near eastern affairs, met Barzani in Erbil. The US diplomat, who has been involved in a shuttle diplomacy between Erbil and Baghdad, called that meeting “fruitful.” In a statement, the US Embassy in Baghdad expressed satisfaction with the KRG’s gesture, and urged further talks between the two sides.
The embassy statement added, “The United States welcomes the decision by the Kurdistan Regional Government to begin oil exports of 100,000 barrels-per-day on April 1 through the Iraqi-Turkey pipeline pursuant to existing export arrangements with the Government of Iraq (GOI).”
Last week, the Anadolu News Agency quoted Turkish Energy Minister Taner Yildiz as saying that 1.35 million barrels of KRG oil is in storage at Turkey’s Ceyhan oil export terminal, expected to rise to 1.5 million barrels later in the week.
Turkey has said it would not sell the Kurdish oil without Baghdad’s agreement, and Yildiz was optimistic that Baghdad and Erbil would arrive at a solution. The US statement also suggested experts from both sides should meet regularly to discuss exports.
It mentioned, “The United States urges the joint GOI-KRG committee, comprising experts from the GOI’s Ministry of Oil and the KRG’s Ministry of Natural Resources, to meet and assess future month-to-month export targets based on technical capacities and in a manner consistent with the Iraqi Constitution.”
Washington also reaffirmed its commitment to acting as a “neutral broker and facilitator to the extent desired by the leadership of both the GOI and the KRG, consistent with our long-term partnership with Iraq as outlined by the Strategic Framework Agreement.”
According to a statement on the KRG presidency, US Vice President Joe Biden telephoned Kurdistan President Massoud Barzani for Newroz, and both sides agreed that “Erbil-Baghdad disputes to be resolved through dialogue and understanding.”

Updated 24 Mar 2014 | Soruce: Rudaw |
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