Ninety percent of issues with Kurdistan region 'resolved': Iraqi PM 

Ninety percent of issues with Kurdistan region 'resolved': Iraqi PM 
The Iraqi PM says 90 per cent of the issues between the northern Kurdistan region and the Iraqi government have been resolved, despite his government pursuing legal action against the region’s oil sector. 
4 min read
08 June, 2022
Iraqi Kurdistan Prime Minister Masrour Barzani (right) welcomes Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi in Erbil, the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan on 10 September 2020. [Getty]

Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi said on Tuesday that 90 per cent of disagreements with the northern Kurdistan region had been resolved, but he stresses that his government is bound by a decision by the Federal Supreme Court in February that found the region's oil and gas sector as "unconstitutional".

"It is normal to have disagreements when there are several different opinions," Kadhimi said in a press conference late on Tuesday in Baghdad.

"There must be good confidence and trust to find a solution between the federal government and the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG)...the federal court is the highest court in Iraq, and the government is bound by its decisions," he added. 

A KRG delegation visited Baghdad on Monday in a bid to resolve pending issues with the Iraqi federal government, mainly in regard to the oil and gas issues, as well as the region's financial entitlements from a controversial food security bill that is expected to be voted on today in the Iraqi parliament.

The New Arab contacted Khalid Shwani, the KRG minister of state for negotiations affairs with Baghdad, but he was not immediately available to comment. 

"We do not want to make assumptions or get ahead of the events. Whenever the matter needs a statement or there are developments, we will announce it in a formal statement," Asim Jihad, the official spokesperson of the Iraqi oil ministry, said to TNA in response to a request for comments on the statements by the Iraqi PM and the ongoing negotiations between the Kurdish and the Iraqi officials.

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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 which regulates the oil and gas sector in the region. The Kurdish officials then described the court's decision as "unconstitutional" and  "unjust".

Since 2014, the KRG exports more than 450,000 barrels of oil per day independently from the Iraqi federal government in Baghdad.

The Kurdish and Iraqi officials launched first round of their talks in April in which Iraq's oil minister suggested that international oil companies will no longer sign contracts with the KRG ministry of natural resources. Rather, according to the minister's proposal, a new oil company based in Erbil and under the supervision of the Iraqi oil ministry and it will be the only entity to be able to 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 told TNA in April. 

However, Kurdish officials have refused these suggestions, prompting Iraqi State Oil Marketing Organization (SOMO) to take measures against the KRG and IOC working in the region. 

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"During a meeting with the oil and gas committee in the Iraqi parliament late in May,  the director general of SOMO, Alaa al-Yassiri said they showed much flexibility with the Kurdistan region, but Kurdish authorities in a letter have refused all our suggestions," Rebwar Awrahman, Iraqi lawmaker from the Kurdish New Generation opposition party told TNA in a brief phone interview. 

"Al-Yassiri confirmed that they have told their legal consultants to file legal cases in international arbitrary courts in London and Paris against the KRG as well as the IOC. He also threatened that they could block the international bank account that the KRG uses to put revenues from selling oil from the Kurdistan region’s oil fields," Awrahman added.  

"Iraq's Commercial Court has postponed a first hearing in the Oil Ministry's lawsuit against international oil companies operating in Iraqi Kurdistan because the defendants did not send authorised representatives to the court," the Iraqi Oil Report reported on Sunday. 

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Ali Hama Salih, head of the natural resources committee in the Kurdistan Parliament, wrote on his official Facebook page on Monday that Iraq's state northern oil company has filed legal cases against the KRG and claims Khormor and Khurmala oil and gas fields is belonging to the company and the KRG has invaded them by force. 

Nearly 42 per cent of the overall Kurdistan region's oil exports and 100 per cent of the region’s LPG and electricity comes from those two fields. 

Salih told TNA that the KRG officials have not given his committee any information about the results of their talks with the Iraqi officials.