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Kurdish Oil Min sees exports in early 2011

Oil exports seen early 2011.

November 26, 2010 9:59 by

The government of the semi-autonomous Kurdistan region of Iraq expects to soon secure recognition of the oil deals it signed with foreign companies from a new government in Baghdad, the area’s oil minister said on Thursday.

Around 40 companies, such as Norway’s DNO, have invested in Kurdistan but their revenues have been curtailed by being unable to sell their oil for export because Baghdad has previously deemed the contracts illegal.

Kurdistan Regional Government Minister for Natural Resources Ashti Hawrami told Reuters he expected talks in Baghdad to form a government to lead to an imminent breakthrough on the issue that has been stalled for over four years.

“I am confident that the leadership between Kurdistan and Baghdad will address these issues in the coming few days and weeks, before the formation of the government,” he said in an interview.

Iraq’s president formally asked Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki on Thursday to form a new government, giving him 30 days to choose a cabinet from among Iraq’s fractious Shi’ite, Kurdish and Sunni political factions.

Hawrami said a deal on the oil issue was one of the Kurdish bloc’s key demands and that exports should follow soon after a deal on the government.

“I am confident that, by early next year, the oil will be flowing,” he said.

DNO stands ready to export around 50,000 barrels per day if a deal is concluded. Currently, it is confined to selling around 17,000 barrels per day to the local Kurdish market, where it receives less than half international prices for its oil.

Other companies including London-listed Gulf Keystone and Heritage Oil and Turkey’s Genel Enerji have also made large discoveries in the region.

(Reporting by Tom Bergin, editing by Sue Thomas)

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