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Iraqi Kurdistan's cabinet approved stricter measures to stop
any illegal trade in crude oil
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Iraqi Kurdistan's cabinet approved
stricter measures to stop any illegal trade in crude
Kurdistan region 'Iraq', — Iraqi Kurdistan's cabinet
approved stricter measures including stepped-up
border surveillance on Monday to stop any illegal
trade in crude oil across the borders of the
semi-autonomous Kurdistan region, regional prime
minister Barham Salih said.
Salih also said in an interview with Reuters that he
hoped legal exports of crude from Kurdistan, which
were halted last year amid a dispute with Baghdad,
could be restarted quickly.
But he said his government was still awaiting a
decision from the central government on how exactly
foreign oil firms would be paid for investment
Kurdistan PM Barham Salih
In an interview at his office in Erbil, Salih said
his government was not aware of any illegal crude
traffic across Iraqi Kurdistan's borders despite
reports of long lines of tankers crossing into
neighbouring Iran every day.
The reports said the trucks carried both crude and
refined oil products, and challenged U.S. efforts to
impose sanctions on Iran over its nuclear research
Under Iraqi law any export of crude has to be done
through the State Oil Marketing Organisation, the
federal government marketing company.
"We have no interest in being a violator of either
the Iraqi constitution or international law," he
said. "I can tell you we have no knowledge of any
crude oil passing through the borders of Kurdistan
and if they do, these are illegal and illicit."
Among the measures passed by his cabinet on Monday
were enhanced monitoring of border crossings to
prevent unauthorized products from leaving,www.ekurd.netand
increased surveillance of tankers to ensure they
comply with Kurdish and federal law, Salih said.
He also said his government would make sure
refineries and plants supplying the tankers were
regulated and that fuel from other areas of Iraq was
properly monitored and accounted for.
Salih said fuel trade across the border was hardly
unique to Kurdistan. "It is taking place across all
the borders of Iraq."
Salih said Iraq and its Kurdish region were both
losing billions of dollars because of the halt of
exports from Iraqi Kurdistan and placed the ball for
resumption back in Baghdad's court.
Erbil and Baghdad have been at loggerheads over oil
contracts the KRG signed with foreign oil firms like
Norway's DNO and Turkey's Genel Enerji.
Oil exports flowed briefly last year from two
fields, Taq Taq and Tawke, before the central
government's refusal to pay the companies turned off
The Iraqi cabinet has since approved a proposal that
would compensate the firms for their exploration and
production costs but would not cover their profits.
"We have asked Baghdad to give us a specific
proposal about how these companies will be paid for
their costs," Salih said.
"We are waiting for the results of this matter and I
very much hope that we and our colleagues in Baghdad
will be able to settle this quickly because every
barrel of oil lost is a barrel lost for all the
Iraqi Oil Minister Hussain al-Shahristani said
recently that he was "surprised" the Kurds had not
resumed exports and said they should be started
The KRG says it has the right to regulate its own
oil industry while Baghdad says the contracts were
illegal because they were signed without its
approval and consent.
"I am hopeful ... that things are on the right track
but I hope we can expedite it and get it done,"
Salih said. "Get it done."
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