German Gas Contract Sparks New Row

We reported yesterday on the new gas deal between the Kurdistan Regional Government and the German giant RWE.  Today, a new row has broken out between Erbil and Baghdad regarding the legality of Kurdish oil and gas contracts.

Aswat al-Iraq reports that the Iraqi Oil Ministry, through the State Organization for Marketing Oil (SOMO), claimed on Sunday to be the only party in Iraq that is exclusively responsible for exporting oil and gas from the country.

“Any other side in Iraq is not authorized to sign contracts with international and local firms in this regard,” the ministry said in a statement.

It explained that any commitments in this regard made by any parties other  than the ministry are meaningless.

“Any contracts signed out of the legal and official forms used by SOMO are considered invalid and illegal,” the ministry stressed.

Hitting back at those statements, KRG's spokesman Kawa Mahmoud, speaking to AKnews, said the KRG's oil and gas activities are not illegal and are compatible with Iraq's Constitution.

He added the revenues will be for the benefit of Iraq but there are those "who do not care about the country," in an apparent reference to Hussein al-Shahrestani, Iraq's oil minister.

"We care about Iraq and the income of our exports will go to a special account to serve all Iraqis. Preventing such deals will harm all Iraqis because the revenues will be used for public projects whether in Basra or Kurdistan," Mahmoud said.

Meanwhile, Sherwan Haidari, a member of the Kurdistan parliament, told AKnews that the statement by the Iraqi oil ministry is only aimed at creating obstacles for the KRG's oil policies.

(Sources: AKnews, Aswat al-Iraq, Reuters)

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