Kurdish oil announcement false start?

May 12, 2009 at 12:12 PM
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LONDON, May 12 (UPI) -- Analysts and statements from top Iraqi officials suggest the Kurdish announcement regarding possible June oil exports is another false start.

The Kurdistan Regional Government announced Friday it would begin oil exports from its Taq Taq and Tawke oil fields beginning in June. In a weekend statement, the KRG said it had received letters from the Baghdad central government sanctioning the move.

"I am pleased to confirm that today, May 10, I have received two letters addressed to the Kurdistan Regional Government Ministry of Natural Resources in Erbil, issued by the Ministry of Oil in Baghdad, which states that export of oil from the Tawke and Taq Taq oil fields in the Kurdistan region should be expedited," KRG Natural Resource Minister Ashti Hawrami said in the statement.

Iraqi Oil Ministry spokesman Asim Jihad reiterated, however, the longstanding position from Baghdad that any independent oil deals with the KRG were illegal.

Oil exports from Iraq are hampered by disputes between Baghdad and the KRG, delaying a national hydrocarbon law dealing with foreign companies and revenue distribution.

As lawmakers hash out the provisions regarding the Iraqi oil sector, the KRG signed on to several unilateral deals for oil exploration and development in its region. In response, Baghdad prohibited several of the companies dealing with the KRG from taking part in national deals.

With Iraqi national coffers sagging amid declining oil prices, the Financial Times quoted an analyst who said Baghdad may finally back down on its position regarding KRG oil contracts.

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