Iraqi and Kurdish officials conclude first round of negations on oil
Officials from the Iraqi oil ministry and a senior delegation from the Kurdistan region held the first round of meeting to discuss measures to manage the Kurdistan region's oil and gas industry after Iraq's Supreme Federal Court (ISFC) in February ruled that exporting oil from the northern region was unconstitutional.
The ministry said in a statement that the Kurdish delegation included officials from the ministry of natural resources of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) along with three other senior officials.
After the meeting, Iraqi oil minister Ihsan Abdul Jabbar held a joint press conference with Khalid Shawani, KRG's minister of state for negotiation affairs with the federal government.
"Iraq's oil minister stressed on the basic principles that were previously suggested by the oil ministry regarding managing the oil dossier in the Kurdistan region, that includes reviewing and amending all contracts that were signed by the KRG with the international oil companies," the media office of the Iraqi oil ministry said in a statement sent to The New Arab.
The minister also said that the Kurdish delegation is planning to return to Erbil to discuss the suggestions with the Kurdish leadership.
According to the Iraqi suggestions, international oil companies will no longer sign contracts with the KRG ministry of natural resources, rather a new oil company based in Erbil and under the supervision of the Iraqi oil ministry will be the only entity to be able to would sign contracts.
"The company would open a bank account at an international bank and the revenues from selling oil from the Kurdistan region will be directly transferred into the Iraqi finance ministry," the Iraqi oil ministry stated.
On his part, Shawani said that the meeting was "frank" and both sides agreed that "this is a good start for cooperation between the Iraqi oil ministry and the KRG."
Shawani also indicated that passing a national oil and gas law would be "the best solution" to deal with all issues between both sides.
"The meeting aims to discuss executive measures, after the decision by ISFC, and to agree on new and standardized measures to manage the oil industry in the region, in a way to achieve the highest advantage and financial resources needed for the general good's service and to help reinforce the national economy and national oil industry," the Iraqi oil ministry said in another statement before the meeting.
The statement also indicated that the Iraqi oil ministry has assigned specialised advisors to review all contracts that have been signed between the KRG and international oil companies working in the region.
On the other hand, state oil marketer SOMO on Monday said that Iraq's oil ministry has "taken all necessary measures required to implement a federal court's ruling that gives it the authority to manage oil and gas fields in northern Iraq, in cooperation with the regional Kurdish authorities."
The Iraqi Federal Supreme Court in mid-February ruled against the Kurdistan region's oil and gas law that was passed in 2007 by the region’s parliament and regulates the oil and gas sector in the region.
The Kurdish officials then described the court's decision as "unconstitutional" and "unjust".