A worker checks pipelines at Kirkuk's Bai Hassan oil field after control of the site was taken by Iraqi forces in October. File photo: AFP
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region—A senior Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) official has denied knowledge of any negotiations between Erbil and Baghdad on the possible resumption of Kirkuk exports via the Turkish port of Ceyhan as claimed by Iraq’s oil minister.
“It is interesting to see the comments of the federal oil minister, but we are not aware of any ongoing negotiations,” a senior KRG official with knowledge of the region’s oil sector told Rudaw on condition of anonymity.
Baghdad-based al-Sabah newspaper quoted Iraq’s Oil Minister Jabar al-Luaibi as saying that negotiations were ongoing with Turkey and Erbil on resuming oil exports from Kirkuk to the international market via Ceyhan, according to a Reuters report on Monday.
“The decision to restart exports depends on the results of the talks,” Luaibi was quoted by al-Sabah as saying, Reuters reported.
The Kurdish government is for its part keen to work with Baghdad and resume oil exports from the disputed province. The KRG also claims to have reached out to Baghdad on this issue.
However, the senior official said that they don’t know who Iraq’s oil minister is referring to in the supposed negotiations.
“Despite repeated requests from the KRG, the minister is not responding, so we don't know who he is actually negotiating with!" the KRG official said.
Kirkuk’s oilfields came under full Iraqi control last October when government troops backed by Hashd al-Shaabi forces overran the province.
Reuters quoted Luaibi as saying that “Production from Iraq’s Kirkuk oilfields is currently at 220,000 barrels per day, which is entirely diverted to local refineries."
The main pipeline carrying Kirkuk’s oil to the port of Ceyhan runs through the autonomous Kurdish region.