Baba Gurgur oilfield in Kirkuk. Photo: AP
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – Iran and Iraq have strengthened their energy-sector ties, including the possible construction of a pipeline to export Kirkuk’s crude oil to refineries in Iran.
Kirkuk’s oil was among the issues discussed when Iraq’s Oil Minister Jabbar Ali Hussein al-Luiebi met with his Iranian counterpart Bijan Zanganeh on Sunday.
“We discussed cooperation in joint delivery of Kirkuk crude oil to Iranian refineries,” Luiebi said after the meeting, according to Iran’s Ministry of Petroleum.
He described ties between Baghdad and Tehran as very strong.
Zanganeh said that they agreed to have an international company carry out a feasibility study of the pipeline, Reuters reported.
The two had signed a memorandum of understanding on the exportation of Kirkuk oil to Iran in February.
Currently, Kirkuk’s oil is exported through the Kurdistan Regional Government’s (KRG) pipeline to Turkey’s Ceyhan port. Under an agreement between Erbil and Baghdad made last year, half of the revenues of sales of Kirkuk’s oil go to the Kurdistan Region.
Oil-rich Kirkuk is claimed by both Baghdad and Erbil. Two of its oil fields are under the control of the KRG and three are run by Iraq’s North Oil Company (NOC). Peshmerga of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) took control over NOC offices in Kirkuk in February.
Kirkuk will take part in the referendum this fall, deciding whether they want to remain with Iraq or join Kurdistan’s bid for independence.
The two ministers also discussed cooperation over oil production from two joint fields with the expectation of signing an agreement by next year, according to Iran’s oil ministry.