Iraq’s Kurds to keep exporting oil independently due to budget differences with Baghdad

Special to WorldTribune.com

Iraqi Kurds, feeling stiffed by the Iraqi government out of their share of oil revenues, will export crude independently in 2016.

The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) said the move was needed amid a continuing slump in oil prices after Iraq failed to deliver on its promise of a 17 percent share of the federal budget.

Workers at an oilfield in Iraqi Kurdistan. /Reuters
Workers at an oilfield in Iraqi Kurdistan. /Reuters

“Oil prices are low, and government revenues in 2015 were about $50 billion at best, which means half of what has been forecast,” said Izzat Sabir Ismael, chairman of the Kurdish parliament’s finance and economic affairs committee.

“If the KRG delivers to Baghdad the agreed quantity of 550,000 barrels a day, Baghdad will not be able to pay the KRG its share of the budget – which is about $1 billion a month. So, the KRG studied the situation and decided to export oil on its own,” Ismael said.

The KRG has been exporting crude independently via a pipeline to Turkey since last June. Officials say the Kurds are months behind in paying fees to international oil companies as well as wages to its public-sector employees.

According to BP, the KRG is independently developing oil reserves that may total 45 billion barrels – about a third of the deposits in the rest of Iraq.

Baghdad produced 3.8 million barrels a day in December, excluding output from the Kurdish region, according to Iraqi Oil Ministry data.

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