Oil exports from Iraq’s Kurdish north to resume
CAIRO: Iraq's newly appointed oil minister said on Saturday that oil exports from the country's northern selfruled Kurdish region would soon resume as part of the country's national oil export policy.
The Kurds have sought greater control over oil in their crude-rich region while Baghdad has argued that the oil i s a national resource, under t he central government's control.
Iraqi Kurds have unilaterally signed more than two dozens oil deals with Western companies that are deemed illegal by Baghdad. Exports were halted a few months after they started in June 2009 amid a disagreement over payments.
Abdul-Karim Elaibi told The Associated Press the exports from the Kurdish region would be resumed "in the coming few days."
He didn't set a date or elaborate on how the exports would be part of the nation's export strategy.
Earlier this month, Elaibi's predecessor, Hussain al- Shahristani, said a dispute over how private companies accounted for equipment costs and other expenses for reimbursement has been settled, clearing the way for the exports to resume.
Al-Shahristani, who now holds the post of vice president for energy issues in the new government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, said in comments Dec.6 the Kurds were committed to exporting 150,000 barrels a day by next year.
Iraq plans to raise exports to 2.25 million barrels a day in 2011, up from 1.9 million at present. The current oil exports account for nearly all of Iraq's foreign currency revenues.
The increase is as important psychologically for Iraq as it is economically and practically.
The oil-rich nation, which was the birthplace for the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, has struggled to raise its oil production and exports after years of sanctions and wars left much of the vital sector in poor shape. -Ap