Truth, Lies And Barrels Per Day: Confusion Reigns in Iraq-Kurd Oil Dispute
The deal done to resolve Baghdad’s issues with Kurdish oil looks shaky. Both sides have presented different oil export numbers. Now some Kurdish MPs say they will resign, others want to honour the deal.
In a move that seems to indicate yet again just how precarious the deal done to resolve issues around money and oil between the Iraqi government in Baghdad and the country’s Kurdish region is, the two parties have come up with different sets of figures on oil exports.
The Iraqi government had stopped paying the part of the federal budget owed to the semi-autonomous northern region of Iraqi Kurdistan in 2014, as punishment for various disputes the two were having, including the fact that Iraqi Kurdistan was exporting oil independently of the central government.
Relations had worsened but in a recent deal that was hailed as a breakthrough “the Kurds committed to export an average of 550,000 barrels per day in 2015, in exchange for Baghdad resuming budget payments of over $1 billion a month to Kurdistan in 2015,” the Reuters news agency reported.
The agreement, made as part of Iraq’s 2015 federal budget law, stipulated that the Iraqi Kurdish should export 250,000 barrels per day of their own oil and 300,000 barrels per day from the Kirkuk fields that they currently control due to the security crisis.
However now the Iraqi government in Baghdad is saying that Iraqi Kurdistan has only delivered 135,000 barrels of oil a day to Iraq’s central State Organization for Marketing of Oil, or SOMO. Meanwhile the Iraqi Kurdish government, based in Erbil, say they have been doing their best and have in fact delivered more like 400,000 barrels a day.
Iraqi Kurdish MP Ariz Abdullah, a member of the federal parliament’s Oil and Energy Committee, explained the differing figures like this: “If we divide Iraqi Kurdistan’s oil exports over the past three months by the days, than the Iraqi Kurdish figures are correct. However the figures per day didn’t always reach the quantity that was agreed upon,” he notes.