KIRKUK, Kurdistan Region –Kurdish parties in Kirkuk have shown unanimous support Monday for the implementation of an agreement brokered earlier in January between the province and Baghdad which includes more investment in the oil sector in Kirkuk and employment opportunities for the local people.
This comes following the deployment of a force from the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) last Thursday to the state-run North Oil Company (NOC) in Kirkuk, which resulted in stopping oil exports for hours in an effort to force Baghdad to commit to the agreement.
The full text of the January agreement can be found at the end of this article.
“With the unanimous vote, we supported the agreement (protocol) between the Kirkuk governor, and the Iraqi ministry of oil,” read a joint statement issued after a press conference following Monday’s meeting between the Kirkuk Kurdish parties, which also included the two main Kurdish parties, the PUK and the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP).
“[We] demand: the implementation of all the points of the protocol, building strategic projects, employing the people of Kirkuk in the North Oil Company, and the payment of all the petrodollar entitlements to the Kirkuk administration,” the statement continued.
Baghdad has not paid Kirkuk province its share of revenues from oil sold from its fields since 2013.
On Thursday, Peshmerga of the PUK took control over the state-run NOC offices in Kirkuk. They continue to hold the facility pending a seven-day deadline they set for the Iraqi government.
“Deployment of troops in Kirkuk is to show Baghdad that Kirkuk’s oil is for the people of Kirkuk,” said Aso Mamand, head of the PUK’s office in Kirkuk, on Thursday. “We have deployed troops to prevent Baghdad from exporting Kirkuk’s oil to Mosul and Baghdad. Baghdad wants to export Kirkuk’s oil for the rest of Iraq while our people are in desperate need for it.”
During the Kurdistan Regional Government’s (KRG) latest visit to Baghdad in 2016, it was agreed that the oil under Baghdad’s control in Kirkuk would be exported through the Kurdistan Region and half the revenue would go to the region.
The KRG, with the KDP holding the positions of prime minister and president, said on Thursday that storming the oil facility in Kirkuk was “illegal, irresponsible, and provocative.”
The KDP has joined today’s statement.
In a separate press conference, the head of the Kirkuk Provincial Council, when asked whether they support the act of seizing the oil facility by the PUK forces, said that the Council supports any move that helps to secure the interests of the people of the province.
“We will support any move that is in the interest of the people of Kirkuk. If Baghdad is not convinced by the language of logic, then the people of Kirkuk make their own decisions,” Rebwar Talabani said on Monday.
On February 20, the Iraqi oil ministry announced it had signed a memorandum of understanding with Tehran to study the export of part of Kirkuk’s oil through a pipeline to Iran.
Currently, Kirkuk oil is being exported to the world market through the Ceyhan port in Turkey. Two oilfields in Kirkuk are under the control of the KRG and three are run by the NOC.
The Kurdish parties also called on the Iraqi government to hold elections in Kirkuk as part of the upcoming nation-wide vote. The last time a provincial election was held in Kirkuk was 12 years ago.
On January 10, the governors of Kirkuk, Nineveh, and Saladin met with Iraq’s minister of oil, his deputy, a deputy of the finance ministry of Iraq, and a number of other Iraqi officials from the oil ministry. They discussed and then agreed on the following points regarding meeting the oil demands of the provinces, power supply, and the issues of power plants, paying back debts, and investment. The following is the full versions of the points agreed to by all sides, described as a protocol by the Kurdish parties in their Monday press conference:
1. Allocating a certain amount of crude oil to pay back the debts of those companies who are investing in the power plants to add 250 megawatts of electricity to Kirkuk province.
2. Providing 40,000 barrels of oil to Aski Kalak refinery and increasing it in the future to make the refinery function, providing electricity to Nineveh province and Gayara power plant, the revenue of which to be allocated to the provinces of Kirkuk and Saladin.
3. Providing 20,000 barrels of oil to the Qaiwan refinery in Sulaimani province.
4. The ministry of oil with the help of the investors and a Czech company will renovate the refinery of the North Oil Company.
5. The provision of 25,000 barrels of oil from Kirkuk oil fields to the Quds power plant is to be continued.
6. Helping the Kirkuk province to begin expanding the Kirkuk oil refinery and its work with Barham company to install a new refinery.
7. Committing the investor in the Aski Kalak refinery to take into consideration the implementation of law in employing its workers from the people of Nineveh, Kirkuk, and the provinces of the Kurdistan Region.