By John Lee.
Just as some observers were saying the dispute looked intractable, Deputy Prime Minister for Energy Hussein al-Shahristani has announced a potentially big breakthrough in the ongoing saga of deal and no deal between Baghdad and the Kurdish Regional Government over oil exports to Turkey and oil revenues.
Reuters has reported that after intensive negotiations which have seen Kurdish oil exports stuck at the Turkish port of Ceyhan, the KRG has agreed to export through SOMO, the State Oil Marketing Organisation.
If such a deal survives where previous agreements have stumbled, this leaves an ongoing dispute about the 17% of oil revenue the KRG is supposed to receive from Baghdad, which the KRG complains is frequently reduced. Since January, Baghdad has been withholding salaries of civil servants in the KRG and threatening to sue Turkey.
Shahristani has hailed the deal with SOMO as a positive step forward, and salaries for KRG civil servants will supposedly be paid for the month of January. Shahristani has said February's payments will go through when the SOMO deal comes into effect.