No Deal So Far on Iraq, Kurdistan Oil Payments

Source: Reuters 6/12/2013, Location: Middle East

No agreement has been reached between Iraq and Kurdistan on payments to oil companies working in the autonomous region despite a meeting this week between Baghdad and Kurdish leaders, Deputy Prime Minister Hussain al-Shahristani said.

Iraq's Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki visited Kurdistan on 9 June 2013 for talks with Kurdish officials in a symbolic step to ending their long-running feud over oil and land, but there was little concrete progress.

Kurdistan says it is owed more than 4 trillion Iraqi dinars, or $3.5 billion by Baghdad to cover the costs accumulated by oil companies operating there, but the central government rejects those contracts as illegal.

"No deal has been reached. We have not discussed this issue during our visit to the region," Shahristani told reporters on the sidelines of an energy presentation.

The payment dispute is part of wider disagreements over who controls the world's fourth-largest oil reserves. Baghdad says the central government has the exclusive right to decide on oil development, but Kurdistan says the constitution allows it to sign its own oil contracts.

Crude from Kurdistan used to be shipped to world markets through a Baghdad-controlled pipeline to Turkey, but exports via that channel dried up last year as result of the payment row with the central government.

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