Kurdish party says Iraqi forces seized the oil fields in Kirkuk

Fighting continues in the so-called disputed territories of northern Iraq following a Kurdish referendum for independence.
By Daniel J. Graeber Follow @dan_graeber Contact the Author   |  Oct. 17, 2017 at 9:12 AM
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Oct. 17 (UPI) -- Iraqi military forces operating in the northern restive provinces have taken control over the oil fields in Kirkuk, a Kurdish political party confirmed.

Kurdish military forces backed out of the northern city of Sinjar after a confrontation with paramilitary forces loyal to the federal government in Baghdad. The city is included in territories of dispute between the semiautonomous Kurdish government and the federal government in Baghdad. Disputed territories run north from a line stretching from Khanaqin along the eastern border with Iran to Sinjar, near the border with Syria.

The terrorist group calling itself the Islamic State was driven out of Sinjar two years ago and the Iraqi government is working on a broader reconstruction campaign following regional liberation. Fighting escalated during the weekend between Iraqi and Kurdish military forces, weeks after a controversial Kurdish referendum for independence.

According to the media arm of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, a political party, Iraqi military forces have seized control over the oil in Kirkuk, power plants and other industrial facilities.

"The control over the gas facility of the Northern Gas Company, the police center, the Kirkuk power station, the filter station near the gas facility, and the units continue to move forward," a statement attributed to Iraqi military forces read.

Tensions in northern Iraq have added a risk premium to the price of crude oil. While most of the Iraqi reserves are in the south of the country, hundreds of thousands of barrels move each day north to a Turkish port facility on the Mediterranean Sea.

Iraqi and Kurdish skirmishes pre-date the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, thought the PUK's report said both sides were trying to avoid casualties.

"We assure our people in Kurdistan and Kirkuk that we protect their security and interests and fulfilled only the constitutional duty to spread federal authority, establish security and protect national wealth in the city," a statement from Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi read.

There are no indications that oil operations inside formal Kurdish territory have been interrupted. Norwegian oil and gas company DNO said Monday 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.

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