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Iraqi official: Kurdish Black Forces at North Oil Company seek ‘political’ gains

By Rudaw 17/5/2017
Members of the security forces of the Kurdish Patriotic Union of Kurdistan guard the main gate of the Iraqi North Oil Company in March. Photo: Rudaw video
Members of the security forces of the Kurdish Patriotic Union of Kurdistan guard the main gate of the Iraqi North Oil Company in March. Photo: Rudaw video

ERBIL, Kurdistan Region - Iraq’s oil ministry has stated that the Black Force units deployed to the Kirkuk’s state-run oil company in early March are seeking “political” gains and are complicating problems in the oil-rich province.


Spokesperson Asim Jihad commented on the presence of the armed forces of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) who have been stationed in the North Oil Company in Kirkuk since early March.


“The deployment of these forces to the North Oil Company has political factors,” Kirkuk Now news reported Jihad as saying in an interview that will be published in full later on.


He said it is shows that “the political and nationalist interest has been put higher than the national interest, and therefore these procedures will complicate [efforts] in resolving the issues.”


The Kurdish force, backed by all Kurdish parties in Kirkuk, seeks to force Baghdad to implement an agreement between the Kirkuk governor and Baghdad reached in January, notably in opening an oil refinery in the multi-ethnic Kirkuk.


The oil minister said that the plan to invest in Kirkuk’ oil infrastructure has long been pursued, but the situation in Kirkuk and Iraq is not helpful at this stage.


He repeated a similar stance taken in early March: The oil ministry has tried to set up a refinery in Kirkuk, but due to the city’s security and political situation, no company was ready to go to Kirkuk.


The oil ministry announced back in March that they added a processing unit to Kirkuk’s oil refinery which increases its capacity by 10,000 barrels a day, perhaps as a response to a key demand from the PUK, other Kurdish parties in the city, and the local government in Kirkuk.


A senior PUK official has said that they will not withdraw the Black Force from the site until their demands are met.


In the same recent Kirkuk Now interview, Rawand Mala Mahmud, deputy head of PUK’s Kirkuk office, was also quoted as saying that the security situation of Kirkuk’s oil wells is “stable” and they negotiated an agreement with Baghdad in this regard.


The Kurdish official warned they are ready to respond militarily if their forces are attacked in Kirkuk’s North Oil Company about 11 kilometers from Kirkuk.


Head of the security committee of Kirkuk Provincial Council told Rudaw that the force should remain stationed there until the situation is “calm” again and ISIS-held Hawija is liberated.


The PUK deployed its Black Force to the Iraqi oil company NOC that runs several oil fields in the province in early March. It resulted in halting oil exports for hours in an effort to force Baghdad to commit to an earlier agreement signed between the local government and Baghdad in January.


Days after the deployment, Kurdish parties in Kirkuk showed unanimous support for the implementation of the agreement which includes more investment in the oil sector in Kirkuk and employment opportunities for the local people.


NOC is a state company under Iraq’s Ministry of Oil. It operates in oil and gas production in Kirkuk, Nineveh, Erbil, Baghdad, and Diyala provinces as well as in parts of Hilla and Kut.


According to an agreement between Erbil and Baghdad signed in August 2016 between Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani and Iraqi Premier Haider al-Abadi, the KRG sells half of the oil being exported from the North Oil Company to Turkey’s Ceyhan Port and Baghdad sells a similar proportion.


Currently, Kirkuk oil is being exported to the world market through the Ceyhan. Two oil fields in Kirkuk are under the control of the KRG and three are run by the NOC.


observer | 18/5/2017
asim jihad the most corrupt inside trader working in iraqi oil smuggling minister.
| 18/5/2017
The PUK's control of Kirkuk and its oil pipeline and fields exerts immense pressure on KDP to negotiate on more favourable terms to the Talabani family. The Talabani Family and their frontman Dr Karim have been planning this for a long time, even since before Mam Jallal fell ill and left to Germany. it is not about politics, it is about self and family commercial interests.

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