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Kurds say oil export initiative on hold due to Iraqi pipeline repairs

Published: Updated:

Plans to resume oil exports from Iraqi Kurdistan are on hold due to ongoing repair work on a pipeline running from the Kirkuk oilfields to Turkey, the regional government said in a statement.

Kurdistan said last month it would begin exporting 100,000 barrels per day (bpd) from April 1 through Iraq’s official pipeline network as a “gesture of goodwill” to ease a dispute with the federal government in Baghdad.

But the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) said the federal oil ministry had advised that it was “not yet ready” to receive any oil because of damage to the pipeline from Kirkuk to the Turkish port of Ceyhan, which has been repeatedly sabotaged over the past year.

“It has been agreed that as soon as the repairs to the pipeline are finished, the KRG shall begin to export from the region,” said the statement.

The planned exports via the federal pipeline marked a breakthrough in months of U.S. shuttle diplomacy and negotiations over oil exports from the autonomous region, which Baghdad wants to keep under its control.

Crude from Kurdistan used to flow through a Baghdad-controlled pipeline to the Turkish port of Ceyhan, but exports via that channel dried up in late 2012 due to a dispute over payments for oil companies operating in the region.

Since then, the Kurds have trucked smaller quantities of oil across the border while building a separate pipeline to Turkey in defiance of Baghdad, which retaliated this year by cutting the region’s monthly budget allocation.