Northern Iraq says it halts all oil exports

Northern Iraq says it halts all oil exports

Northern Iraq says it halts all oil exports

Masoud Barzani’s administration in Iraq’s north says it has halted oil exports. AA photo

The regional administration in Iraq’s north has halted its exports of oil, it said yesterday, claiming that the central government has withheld payment to companies working in the region for 10 months.

“After consultation with the producing companies, the ministry (of natural resources) has reluctantly decided to halt exports until further notice,” the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) said in a statement on its official website.

“We hope that this is a temporary measure and that those in the federal government responsible for non-payment will quickly realise that their failure to adhere to their agreements is not in the interests of the Iraqi people,” the statement read.

“Once this unfortunate non-payment situation has been satisfactorily resolved we will do our utmost to increase exports above the target of 175,000 barrels per day included in the 2012 Iraq budget,” it said. The move came following threats by the region last week to stop exports because the central government in Baghdad had not paid firms working in the north since May 2011.

The KRG authorities say nearly $1.5 billion has been withheld.

Iraq’s Deputy Prime Minister for Energy Affairs warned earlier yesterday that KRG should think twice before cutting off exports.

“I would advise them, before they make any threat, to consider how much oil (revenue) they are getting from other parts of the country, which is much more than the oil that is being produced there,” he said in an interview in English with in his office in Baghdad, Agence France-Presse reported yesterday.

Baghdad and Arbil have squabbled over payments, revenue-sharing and the central government’s refusal to recognize deals Kurdish officials have signed with foreign energy firms.

Turkey, trade,