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Kurds blame Baghdad for oil delays

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ERBIL, Iraq, June 29 (UPI) -- The construction of four oil refineries in the Kurdish region of Iraq was delayed because of the failures of the Iraqi oil minister, Kurdish lawmakers say.

Refineries in the cities of Kirkuk and Erbil, the Kurdish capital, would have produced nearly 200,000 barrels per day while another plant should have been slated at the Taq Taq field, the Kurdish Globe reports.

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Those projects were delayed due to the negligence of Iraqi Oil Minister Hussain al-Shahristani, complained Bayazid Hassan, a Kurdish lawmaker in the Iraqi Parliament.

Hassan said the Iraqi federal government should have moved on financing for the projects, but failed to do so.

Baghdad is set to announce the winners of several service contracts for oil and gas fields June 30. The online Iraq Oil Report notes a sandstorm closed Baghdad International Airport, postponing the original Monday auction start.

Iraqi Kurdistan began oil exports from its Taq Taq and Tawke oil fields beginning June 1, depositing the revenue in federal coffers.

Meanwhile, Shahristani has faced mounting allegations that the Iraqi oil and gas sector has suffered during his tenure. Representatives with the state-run South Oil Co., for their part, have said national companies should reap the benefits, while the Kurdistan Regional Government said the contracts should be scrapped.

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"These contracts are being rushed, perhaps to meet short-term political objectives and to obscure past mistakes and failures," said Ashti Hawrami, the natural resource minister for the KRG.

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