ARBIL - Agence France-Presse
The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) has begun sending oil produced in its three-province autonomous region out of the country without the express permission of the central government, an official said yesterday.
The central government in Baghdad, meanwhile, insisted that it reserved the sole right to export oil, which accounts for the lion’s share of the country’s income and is at the centre of a dispute between the capital and the KRG.
“We started exporting limited quantities of crude oil to Turkey a few days ago,” Seerwan Abubaqr, an adviser to the KRG’s natural resources ministry, told AFP.
He said the crude was being exported to Turkey so it could be refined into various products before being brought back to northern Iraq. “If we need to, we will export oil to Iran,” Abubaqr added. “We will continue exports of oil until the central government provides the region with oil products.”
“The central government has pushed us to do this.”
Kurdish officials say the central government has barred the dispatch of petroleum products to the northern region, but Baghdad has denied those allegations.
“Nobody has the right to export oil, gas, or oil products to foreign countries,” said Faisal Abdullah, spokesman for Hussein al-Shahristani, deputy premier responsible for energy affairs. “Only the oil ministry of the government in Baghdad has the right to export oil or oil products.”