A young girl plays in the snow on Kurdistan Region’s Korek Mountain. Photo: Peshtiwan Rasoul / Rudaw
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – Baghdad has pledged to send a supply of heating oil to help see the Kurdistan Region through the cold winter months. However, officials in Erbil say the promised delivery will meet just five percent of the Region’s demand.
Nawzad Hadi, governor of Erbil province, met with Motasam Hassan, Iraq’s deputy oil minister, on Thursday. According to a statement from Hadi’s office, they discussed federal government supplements of gasoline and heating oil for the Region’s provinces.
Based on an earlier agreement between Erbil and Baghdad, the Iraqi government was committed to allocate five million liters of heating oil to Erbil province, five million to Sulaimani, three million to Duhok, and two million to Halabja over the winter period 2018/19.
“This amount is a small portion of the Region’s annual demands for heating oil supplies,” the statement reads.
“If one barrel is supplied for each family in the Kurdistan Region by Baghdad, then it should supply 100 million liters for Erbil, 110 million liters for Sulaimani, 80 million to Duhok and 50 to Halabja,” it adds.
However, Hassan stressed the federal government is only able to give the Kurdistan Region provinces the same share of subsidies it gives to other Iraqi provinces.
Citizens of the Kurdistan Region provinces have not received the annual oil subsidy since 2014, when Erbil-Baghdad relations collapsed in a dispute over foreign oil sales. Then-prime minister Nouri al-Maliki suspended the KRG’s share of the federal budget. The crisis was compounded by the costly war with ISIS and the financial crash of 2016.
Due to low winter temperatures, Kurdistan Region officials first distribute oil to the mountainous areas bordering Iran. However, some of the more isolated areas have not received oil deliveries for nearly two years.
The meeting between Hadi and Hassan comes a day after Haval Abu Bakir, governor of Sulaimani, told Rudaw the Iraqi government had agreed to send heating oil for all Kurdistan Region provinces “at our request”.
“Starting from Thursday, five tanker trucks of heating oil will be sent to Sulaimani on daily basis, five to Erbil, three to Duhok, and two to Halabja province. This will continue until sufficient oil is provided to people,” Abubakir told Rudaw.
Baghdad and Erbil have worked to improve relations following the events of October 16, when Iraqi forces and Hashd al-Shaabi paramilitias took over the disputed territories. The Kurdistan Region has been allocated a 12.67 percent share of the federal budget – short of the desired 17 percent – but better than nothing.