Baghdad pays oil companies

Oct. 1, 2012 at 8:25 AM

BAGHDAD, Oct. 1 (UPI) -- The semiautonomous Kurdish government in northern Iraq said the central government paid some of the money it owes oil companies drilling there.

The Kurdistan Regional Government in April halted oil exports because it said Baghdad wasn't paying energy companies working in the Kurdish north.

Exports resumed in early August, however, as a "goodwill initiative" that the Kurdish government said should encourage Baghdad to make good on "all the outstanding payments due."

Kurdish Natural Resources Minister Ashti Hawrami confirmed that Baghdad transferred payments to international oil companies working in the region, reports Bloomberg News.

Last month, Hawrami said Baghdad pledged to pay about 60 percent of the $858 million owed to international oil companies. It was unclear what portion of the debt the most recent payments reflect.

Washington warned energy companies of risks associated with working in Iraq given political tensions between the KRG and Baghdad. Baghdad blacklisted some companies for landing unilateral deals with the KRG.

The Kurdish government had said it was planning to raise production to 200,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day and more production was expected for 2013.

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