Baghdad tells Kurdistan to move oil activities to new company

Khalid Al-Ansary March 31, 2022

(Bloomberg) — Iraq’s government has told Kurdistan to transfer its oil and gas activities to a new company ahead of Baghdad’s takeover of the region’s operations, according to a document seen by Bloomberg.

The document, signed by Oil Minister Ihsan Abdul Jabbar, requests copies of all oil and gas contracts signed by the Kurdistan Regional Government since 2004 and details relating to its hydrocarbon revenues. The document was sent on March 24 and the information is requested within 15 days.

Baghdad has long sought to bring Kurdish production under its control in exchange for funds from Iraq’s national budget. A February ruling in Iraq’s top court asserted the central government’s right to the semi-autonomous region’s hydrocarbons.

But the KRG in Erbil insists that its right to control the region’s hydrocarbons is enshrined in the constitution. Prime Minister Masrour Barzani on Monday said his government remains committed to its contracts with oil and gas companies despite the court ruling.

Kurdistan produces about 450,000 barrels a day of oil. That’s a small fraction of Iraq’s overall daily output of 4.3 million barrels.

In the letter, Baghdad asks the KRG to appoint officials to work with the central government to establish the new company, which it suggests calling Kurdistan Oil Co.

The KRG’s spokesman didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment on the document.

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