Kurds in Iraq to resume oil exports

Aug. 2, 2012 at 8:06 AM
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ERBIL, Iraq, Aug. 2 (UPI) -- It's time to put aside efforts aimed at "illegal centralized control" over oil and natural gas operations in Iraq, the Kurdish natural resources minister said.

The semiautonomous Kurdistan Regional Government and the central government in Baghdad are at odds over natural resources in the country. Several international energy companies have landed deals with the KRG in a move considered illegal by the central government.

KRG Natural Resources Minister Ashti Hawrami called for an end to the disputes.

"It is time to put aside futile and time-wasting attempts to re-impose an illegal centralized control over oil and gas in Iraq," he said in a statement. "The country is crying out for cooperation and coordination on these issues, not confrontation."

Kurdish officials are among those expressing frustration with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. His critics accuse him of monopolizing power. The United Nations, in a recent report, said political disputes were undermining development in Iraq.

The KRG in April halted oil exports because it said Baghdad wasn't paying energy companies working in the Kurdish north. The government said it would resume exports this week, however, as a "goodwill initiative" that a spokesman said should encourage Baghdad to make good on "all the outstanding payments due."

Exports should restart at around 100,000 barrels per day for one month. The level could reach 200,000 bpd provided payments are forthcoming, the KRG said.

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