Iraq says has U.S. support in Kurdistan
oil deals row
September 4, 2012
BAGHDAD,— A U.S. official has said
companies should co-operate with Iraq's central
government before striking oil and gas deals with
the autonomous Kurdistan region, according to a
statement from the Iraqi prime minister's office on
Baghdad maintains it alone has the right to export
Iraqi crude. But Kurdistan has moved ahead with
signing exploration deals with oil majors such as
Exxon Mobil and Chevron, which the central
government rejects as illegal.
"The United States has called on all the companies
to (remember) the necessity to co-ordinate with the
central government before concluding any deal or
contract, especially in the fields of oil and gas,"
a statement from Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's
The statement contained details of a meeting between
the prime minister and Elizabeth Jones, U.S.
Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern
Affairs, on Sunday.
A U.S. State Department spokesperson told Reuters
that Washington recognised that U.S. firms working
in other countries made their own business decisions
but that it had given advice on Iraq.
"The USG (U.S. government) has informed and will
continue to inform U.S. companies that signing
contracts for oil exploration or production with any
region of Iraq, without approval from federal Iraqi
authorities, exposes these companies to potential
legal risks," the spokesperson said.
Kurdish oil exports make up a fraction of Iraq's
shipments, but the payment dispute feeds into a
wider conflict between Iraqi Arabs and Kurds over
oil and land that risks upsetting Iraq's uneasy
Maliki said in July that U.S. President Barack Obama
had backed Baghdad's concerns over Exxon Mobil's oil
deal with Kurdistan in a letter. The White House
declined to comment on its content.
Kurdistan, autonomous since 1991, runs its own
government and armed forces but relies on the
central government for a percentage of the country's
oil revenues from the national budget.
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