The spokesman of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) has dismissed reports that a U.S.-Iraqi delegation will visit Kurdistan to investigate allegations of oil exports to Iran.
Kawa Mahmoud, the KRG spokesman, told AKnews that even if the U.S. delegation arrives in the Region, the visit will be limited to issues concerning the formation of the new Iraqi government.
"No Iraqi delegation has arrived in the Region to discuss oil smuggling issues, the reports claiming this are false,” said Mahmoud.
The issue of alleged oil exports to Iran became a source of controversy in Iraq after a New York Times report stated "hundreds of millions of dollars" worth of oil was "smuggled" from Kurdistan to Iran at a time when the international community was trying to impose tough sanctions on Iran.
Local press recently reported that a joint U.S.-Iraqi delegation had arrived at the Bashmakh borders, east of Sulaimaniya, to investigate the "illegal crude oil transportation" to neighbouring Iran.
Abdul-Kareem Bahid Lu’aibi, the Iraqi deputy oil minister, had previously stated he was not aware of any alleged oil smuggling to Iran.
Meanwhile, in an interview with Rudaw, Dr. Ashti Hawrami, Kurdistan's Minister of Natural Resources, denied that any oil had been smuggled: "We are 100% sure that Kurdistani crude oil has never been exported", he said, "except for the four months in which crude oil was exported via the Iraqi pipelines, and that was carried out via SOMO".
Kurdistan is currently producing approximately 100, 000 barrels of oil a day. The KRG receives 17 percent of its oil revenues with the remainder going to the central government. The oil from the Region is exported to Turkey through a pipeline in Kirkuk.
Recently a 12-year contract was made between the ministry of oil in Baghdad and Turkey to transport crude oil through the Iraqi-Turkish pipeline.
(Sources: AKnews, Rudaw)