US State Department Misquoted on Risks of KRG Oil Contracts

By John Lee.

At the US State Department's Daily Press Briefing on Monday, Spokesperson Victoria Nuland was asked to clarify the US Government's official position on oil contracts in Iraqi Kurdistan.

"Our position on this has not changed", she said. "We’ve spoken about it many times here. We speak about it in Iraq. With regard to our own companies, we continue to tell them that signing contracts for oil exploration or production with any region of Iraq without approval from the federal Iraqi authorities exposes them to potential legal risk, and we continue to tell them – obviously, they’ll make their own business decisions, but unless and until we have federal legislation in Iraq governing these things, something that we’ve been urging, that there are risks for them. So that’s our message to our companies."

When asked if the US State Department raises this issue with the companies directly, she replied, "we do. When they come to us and ask what we think, then we raise this issue with them, yes."

These comments have been misquoted in some media. The National Iraqi News Agency (NINA), for example, attributes the following comment to Ms Nuland: "So it is desirable that US companies get the approval of Baghdad fore before till activating the Federal legislation" (sic), but this comment does not appear in the State Department transcript.

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