Conflicting information between Baghdad and Erbil about the resumption of oil exports via “Ceyhan”
The Iraqi Oil Minister, Hayan Abdul-Ghani, announced that the Turkish authorities had been informed of the resumption of Baghdad’s oil export operations in the Kurdistan region and the northern province of Kirkuk, through the Turkish port of Ceyhan, starting tomorrow, Saturday, but the Minister of Natural Resources in the Kurdistan Regional Government denied that on Friday.
Abdul-Ghani said, in a statement issued by his office, that the Iraqi Oil Marketing Company (SOMO) informed the Turkish company “Botas” to resume export and loading operations, after the full completion of the conclusion of contracts with international companies for the sale and marketing of crude oil from the Turkish port of Ceyhan, according to the mechanisms that Approved by the Iraqi Oil Marketing Company “SOMO”.
However, the Minister of Natural Resources of the Kurdistan Regional Government, Kamal Muhammad, denied today, Friday, the resumption of the oil export process via Turkey tomorrow, Saturday. Muhammad said, in statements to reporters: “SOMO (Iraqi Oil Holding Company) has approached Turkey to resume oil exports from the Kurdistan region, and he is awaiting the Turkish response to resume export,” stressing that “the process of exporting oil through the port of Ceyhan will not resume tomorrow, Saturday.” And indicating that he heard this news from the media.
An official source in the Ministry of Natural Resources of the Kurdistan Regional Government indicated that a high-ranking delegation from the Turkish government visited Erbil, yesterday, Thursday, and held a meeting with the Iraqi Ministry of Oil and representatives of the regional government.
The source, who refused to reveal his name, told Al-Araby Al-Jadeed that “Turkey had received promises to postpone the claim to pay the amount of one billion and 400 million dollars, which is the amount of financial compensation imposed on it by the International Arbitration Court in Paris, and this prompted Baghdad to rush to announce the resumption of exports.” “.
Signing the agreement
And the Iraqi government in Baghdad signed, with the Kurdistan Regional Government in the north of the country, on the fourth of last April, a final agreement stipulating that Baghdad take over the process of supervising the oil file.
In a press conference held by the Iraqi Prime Minister, Muhammad Shia’ al-Sudani, and the President of the Kurdistan Regional Government, Masrour Barzani, in Baghdad, last April, and after the signing of the agreement, al-Sudani said, “The agreement is in the interest of all Iraqis,” referring to the government’s keenness not to increase the proportion of deficit in the general budget.
For his part, Barzani explained that “the agreement is important for all Iraqis,” noting that “the Sudanese took into account all Iraqis in the agreement, which will form the basis for the budget law and its foundations will be reflected in the oil and gas law.”
Kovind Sherwani, an oil expert and consultant specializing in energy affairs, stated that “despite the Iraqi announcement by the Minister of Oil to resume exports through the port of Ceyhan, no signs of acceptance or rejection have yet come from the Turkish side.”
In his interview with Al-Araby Al-Jadeed, he pointed out that “the date set for the resumption of exports contradicts Turkey’s preoccupation with the presidential elections, as the administrative and security agencies are busy with the voting process, and it is not known what the results will lead to.”
He added, “The flow of oil again serves the Iraqi government, the region, and Turkey as well, which receives money amounting to one million dollars per day, at least, as a result of exporting Iraqi oil.”
He explained that “Turkey wanted a period to examine the pipeline and make sure that it was not affected by the earthquakes that struck Turkish cities last March, but the Turkish side wants to resolve the complaint submitted against it by Iraq, before resuming export again.”
Big financial losses
According to a member of the Parliament of the Kurdistan region, Sabah Hassan, the financial losses as a result of stopping the region’s oil exports for more than 50 days exceeded the amount of one billion and 300 million dollars.
And the Kurdish parliamentarian confirms, in contact with Al-Araby Al-Jadeed, that “the Kurdistan region was economically affected by the cessation of oil exports, and it faced a problem in paying the salaries of the region’s employees, and therefore, after the process of resuming exports, the Iraqi government will pay the salaries of Kurdish employees on a monthly basis.”
He pointed out that “the Kurdistan region has handed over all of its oil to the “SOMO” company, which is fully responsible for extracting and selling oil, and the region cannot set the price. “.
The Kurdistan region exports 400,000 barrels of oil daily, to which 80,000 barrels of Kirkuk oil will be added, to be exported through the Turkish port of Ceyhan.
The dispute over oil has been a major source of tension between Baghdad and Erbil for years. Last year, the matter reached the Iraqi judiciary, specifically the Federal Court, which decided on the issue of exporting the region’s oil.
In February 2022, the Federal Court, which is the highest judicial authority in Iraq, ordered the Kurdistan region to hand over the oil produced on its territory to Baghdad, and to cancel contracts signed by the region with foreign companies.
Negotiations are taking place between the Iraqi government and the Kurdistan Regional Government aimed at approving the oil and gas law, which ends the controversy between Baghdad and Erbil since 2005 regarding the oil file.