ERBIL, Iraq, April 10 (UPI) -- The semiautonomous Kurdish government in Iraq may be trying to gain leverage given recent developments in the Iraqi oil sector, an analyst said.
The Kurdistan Regional Government last week announced it was halting oil exports because it hadn't received a $1.5 billion payment from the central government in Baghdad.
The sides have bickered over jurisdiction over the country's oil sector. Iraq next month, however, is expected to put around a dozen oil and natural gas blocks up for auction during its fourth international licensing round.
Catherine Hunter, an energy analyst at HIS Global Insight, was quoted by the Emirati newspaper The National as saying gains in the Iraq oil sector were boosting the confidence of Kurdish leaders.
"With oil production from federal Iraq now starting to ratchet up on the back of recent investments, supported by the boost to southern infrastructure, it is arguably now a good time for the KRG to press its case and win the best deal it can," she said.
April exports of crude oil from Kirkuk in northern Iraq to Turkish ports are expected to increase 90,000 barrels per day to 510,000 bpd.
Shipments of Kirkuk crude oil from the Turkish port of Ceyhan were disrupted several times since November because of inclement weather, explosions or technical problems, however.
An explosion on an oil pipeline from the Kurdish north of Iraq halted exports to Turkey briefly last week.