Iraq's Kurdistan Agrees to Raise Oil Exports in 2013

Source: Reuters 10/22/2012, Location: Middle East

Iraqi Kurdistan has agreed to export 250,000 barrels of oil per day (bpd) in 2013 if Baghdad pays operators in the autonomous region, the Kurdish regional government (KRG) said, a move to ease their dispute over control of the country's crude.

Kurdistan halted shipments of its oil in April in protest over what it said was the central government's failure to pay foreign oil companies, but resumed exports after reaching an initial deal in September.

The agreement was reached during a visit to Baghdad by a Kurdish delegation, which met ministers from the federal government to iron out disagreements over the 2013 draft national budget.

Current KRG shipments are around 140,000 barrels per day and are expected to rise to 200,000 bpd by the end of the year.

"The two sides agreed for Kurdistan to export 250,000 barrels of oil per day on the condition that the Iraqi government makes payments to the oil companies in Kurdistan," the KRG said on the Arabic page of its website.

The oil payment dispute is part of a broader feud between Baghdad and Kurdistan over control of oil and contested territories that has dragged in major companies like Exxon Mobil, Chevron and Total.

Baghdad rejects the deals signed between Kurdistan and oil companies as illegal and has blacklisted some that have ventured into the northern Kurdish region.

Kurdistan says its right to grant contracts to foreign companies is enshrined in the Iraqi constitution, which was drawn up following the 2003 invasion that ousted Sunni dictator Saddam Hussein.

The Kurds have since passed their own oil and gas law whilst disagreements among Iraq's Sunni, Shi'ite and Kurdish factions in the national power-sharing government have delayed a long-awaited hydrocarbons law aimed at ending disputes between the two regions over crude resources.

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