By Omar Sattarfor Al Monitor. Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.
On March 2, a military force affiliated with the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) led by former President Jalal Talabani seized the North Oil Company in Kirkuk province.
The military force said the move was a warning for Baghdad to stop the export of the city's oil to other cities and to start establishing a refinery in the city. The military force halted the export of oil for a brief period.
This event is linked to an agreement concluded Aug. 19, 2016, between the central government and the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG). The agreement said that 150,000 barrels of oil will be equally exported from Baghdad and Erbil and that the proceeds will be shared.
The agreement said that the KRG will export its oil through the Kurdistan pipeline to the Turkish port of Ceyhan and will refine the oil through its Kar Oil Company.
However, the PUK did not applaud this agreement; Hero Ibrahim Ahmed, the wife of Jalal Talabani, sent a letter to Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi on Sept. 8, 2016, stating, “The proceeds of the oil exported from Kirkuk are not being spent transparently and fairly in the Kurdistan region. These practices have denied Kirkuk its petro-dollar dues, which negatively affected the lives of the Kirkuk citizens.”
After the Baghdad government failed to respond to the PUK demands to stop the implementation of the agreement, Kurdish forces took control of the oil facilities in Kirkuk in an attempt to rearrange the oil accord by force, as per Kirkuk PUK member of parliament Mohamed Osman. Osman told Al-Monitor, “The recent military action taken by a force affiliated with the PUK was supported by Kirkuk’s political parties. The governments in Baghdad and Erbil have deprived Kirkuk of its rights."
He pointed out that “the province’s administration and its sects wanted the payment of oil proceeds [that have been] withheld by the central government, the creation of job opportunities and the inclusion [of Kirkuk] in investment plans similar to other provinces.”