Amid fighting, Kurdish oil payments continue

The Kurdish government paid out according to a revenue distribution agreement reached in August, Norwegian energy company DNO said.
By Daniel J. Graeber  |  Oct. 16, 2017 at 8:43 AM
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Oct. 16 (UPI) -- The Kurdish government in Iraq made good on an agreement to distribute a share of the production revenue from an oil field, a Norwegian company said Monday.

Norwegian oil and gas company DNO said it received $4 million from the semiautonomous Kurdistan Regional Government. The payment was the first under the terms of an Aug. 1 agreement that assigned DNO a greater stake in the Tawke oil field as well as 3 percent of revenues payable monthly for the next five years.

The payment announcement is the second in as many weeks for DNO, which works alongside British energy company Genel at the Kurdish oil field. DNO reported a payment for oil exports last week.

Companies working in the Kurdish region export oil through a pipeline running north to the Turkish seaport of Ceyhan on the Mediterranean Sea. Export capacity from the Kurdish pipeline is around 300,000 barrels per day.

Monday's announcement comes as military tensions rise in northern Iraq, more than two weeks after the Kurdish government held a contentious referendum for independence from the rest of the country. Acrimony between the Kurdish north and greater Iraq predates the U.S.-led invasion in 2003 and, since then, both sides have bickered over who controls how much of the oil reserves and revenue.

Last week, the federal Iraqi Oil Ministry called on the North Oil Co. to "speed up the implementation" of a project meant to move oil from a pipeline running from the disputed northern city of Kirkuk. Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi called for a region-wide reconstruction effort after declaring northern Iraqi provinces liberated from the Islamic State, also known as ISIL, ISIS, and Daesh.

Fighting erupted in the north of Iraq during the weekend, with Iraqi military forces encircling the disputed city of Kirkuk. Indications on oil operations in the area are fluid, though there are no indications that the work of DNO or Genel was interrupted by the fighting.

Speaking to Iraq news outlet Rudaw, a spokesman for the Kurdish military force, Peshmerga, said two of the major oil fields in Kirkuk were still in Kurdish hands. Kurdish fighters were still holding their positions, but said their Iraqi counterparts were making advances.

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