Mon Jan 21, 2013 5:5PM
The issue of oil has long been a source of friction between the Iraqi government and the semi-autonomous Kurdistan region. In fact, the dispute is over the control of oil revenues and oil fields. A recent exchange of barbs between the two sides has prompted
Iraq’s Kurdistan Regional Government has hit back at Iraqi oil minister Abdul Kareem Luaibi who has recently threatened-- in an interview -- to slash the region’s 17 percent share of the national budget and sue Anglo-Turkish oil firm Genel Energy for exporting crude oil from the region. A statement from Massoud Barzani-- the president of the semi-autonomous Kurdish government says: “Iraq’s citizens are simply tired of this sort of language of threat and intimidation, which in the cynical pursuit of narrow political agendas serves only to create division and strife.” A preliminary deal between Baghdad and BP would see the British oil giant revive a dilapidated oil field in the disputed, oil-rich Kirkuk city. Iraq’s constitution says: “The federal government, with the producing governorates and regional governments, shall undertake the management of oil and gas extracted from present fields… and this shall be regulated by a law.” The Kurdish government says the term “present fields” refers to fields that were active when the constitution was passed in 2005. Kirkuk is one such field. This is why Kurdish officials say they must be included in the management of Kirkuk field. The Kurdish government accuses the federal oil minister of “appearing to incite violence in Iraq’s disputed territories”. The minister has said that oil company Exxon Mobil “should expect opposition from residents in the disputed areas”. Exxon has a deal with the Kurdish government and some of the company’s oil fields are in Iraq’s disputed areas. At least 25 people died in an unrelated suicide bombing in the volatile, disputed Kirkuk city on Wednesday. The semi-autonomous Kurdish government says it could now be exporting 500,000 barrels per day or some $18 billion per year had it not been for what it calls the federal government's “obstructionist policies”. The KRG says that money would cover the region’s annual budget of about $10 billion and provide extra billions for Iraqi people. But Baghdad is adamant that Kurdistan must stop what it calls illegal oil smuggling.