07/20/2010, 00.00
Send to a friend

Kurdish oil for Iran causes row between Baghdad and Erbil

Central and Kurdish governments blame each for oil smuggling to Iran. Iraq’s constitution is ambiguous about who is in charge of oil exploration, drilling, refining and exports.
Baghdad (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Oil has reignited tensions between Iraq’s central government and Iraqi Kurdistan. The issue this time is not contracts signed by the Kurdish regional government without authorisation from Baghdad or the distribution of profits from the oil industry of northern Iraq, but rather large-scale crude oil and by-products smuggling to neighbouring Iran.

The New York Times recently wrote, citing anonymous Kurdish and Arab officials in the Iraqi capital, that each day, without formal authorisation from Baghdad, more than a thousand tankers travel from Sulaimaniyah Governorate to Iran.

Not only are the two major Kurdish parties, the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) led by the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) President Massoud Barzani and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) headed by Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, benefitting from the trade, but so are an estimated 70 mostly unlicensed mini-refineries, which dot the Kurdistan region and Kurdish-controlled areas in nearby Kirkuk and Ninawa Governorates.

However, according to Kurdish officials, oil smuggling also takes place in the southern part of the country. Around 100,000 barrels a day of Iraqi crude oil from the country's southern fields are being smuggled to Iran via the Abadan crossing point, KRG Oil Minister Ashti Hawrami said.

Both regional and central governments have rejected the smuggling claims. However, Iraq’s Federal Oil Minister Husain al-Shahristani announced an investigation into the situation.

In Iraq, both the federal and Kurdish governments have their own oil ministry, the federal one led by al-Shahristani and the other by Hawrami.

Since the Iraqi state was restructured, the two ministries have had big differences on how to deal with Iraq’s almost sole source of hard cash: oil.

For the government in Baghdad, oil exploration, drilling, refining and exports fall under its jurisdiction.

The KRG has challenged that claim, saying that the constitution recognises its power in the matter.

However, the latter is somewhat vague. In any event, the KRG has developed several oil fields and signed about 20 contracts with foreign firms, actions that Baghdad considers unlawful.

Send to a friend
Printable version
See also
Teheran frees tanker seized by the Pasdaran
27/09/2019 13:12
Gibraltar releases the Iranian oil tanker heading to Syria. Challenge the US
16/08/2019 10:58
Baghdad bans two South Korean companies from oil fields
Patriarch Sako: a civil state against the political use of religion
20/05/2021 18:00
US claims Iranian weapons are used in Iraq


Subscribe to Asia News updates or change your preferences

Subscribe now
“L’Asia: ecco il nostro comune compito per il terzo millennio!” - Giovanni Paolo II, da “Alzatevi, andiamo”