Baghdad-Erbil Fail in Breakthrough Over Oil Dispute

By RUDAW – 18.2.2014 – ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – Erbil and Baghdad failed in a breakthrough over an agreement that would allow the autonomous Kurdistan Region to export its own oil through a pipeline to Turkey, sources said following a fifth round of talks. However, Baghdad and the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) both vowed to continue talks to resolve differences.

“Iraq’s Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and KRG Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani emphasized the importance of reaching an agreement over the outstanding issues between the Kurdistan Region and Iraq,” said a statement from the Iraqi premier’s office in Baghdad.Barzani led a Kurdish delegation to Baghdad for talks with federal officials to resolve issues over the controversial exports and the autonomous enclave’s portion of the annual national budget.

Before the meeting in Baghdad, Barzani visited Turkey over the weekend to discuss the oil row and possible solutions with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Istanbul. According to reports, Turkey reaffirmed its commitment to the comprehensive energy deal signed last year with the KRG.

Iraq’s Oil Minister Abdul Karim Luaibi said, “We will continue our negotiations with the KRG for resolving the oil issue.”

Barzani held talks in Baghdad with Luaibi and deputy prime minister for energy affairs, Hussein Shahristani. Meanwhile, Turkey’s Daily Milliyet newspaper quoted anonymous Kurdish sources as saying that the first batch of Kurdish oil had been sold through the Trans Petroleum Company in Singapore, worth $90 million.

Baghdad has warned foreign companies buying Kurdish oil in Turkey that they would be liable to legal action. Turkish Energy Minister Taner Yıldız rejected claims that any Kurdish oil had been sold through Turkey. “If there will be a sale, it will be with the knowledge of Baghdad and its revenues will be conveyed to them. We always say this is not Turkey’s oil, it is Iraq’s,” the newspaper quoted him as saying. Taner has acknowledged that 425,000 barrels of Kurdish oil have been received through the pipeline in the Turkish port of Ceyhan. But he has stressed that none will be sold without an agreement with Baghdad.

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