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Kurdish Official Says 'No' to Baghdad-Tehran Oil Agreement

Oil fields in Kirkuk - undated.
Oil fields in Kirkuk - undated.

Deputy chairman of the Kurdish parliament’s natural resources committee in Northern Iraq has cried foul at Tehran-Baghdad recent agreement on launching a joint committee to study the feasibility of exporting Kirkuk oil through Iran.

“Exporting Kirkuk oil through a pipeline via Iran is a breach by Baghdad of the economic sanctions imposed by the international community on the Iranian regime as well as a breach of related international conventions,” Dilshad Shaaban has maintained.

Meanwhile, Shaaban has described the Iran-Iraq agreement as throwing a wrench into Kurdish affairs at the verge of holding a referendum on Iraqi Kurdistan’s independence.

The memorandum of understanding to study the construction of the Kirkuk pipeline was signed by Iraq and Iran oil ministers in February 2017.

Immediately after the signing ceremony, the head of Iraqi Turkmen Front and representative of Kirkuk in Iraqi parliament, Arshad Salehi bitterly protested and called it as “unanticipated”.

Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh and his Iraqi counterpart Jabar al-Luaibi also discussed transferring oil from Kirkuk to Iranian refineries for processing and returning the byproducts to Iraq.

In an interview with London based Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper, Dilshad Shaabansaid said, “In order to raise more legal problems in Kirkuk, Baghdad and Tehran have been trying for a long time to work on a pipeline to transport crude oil from the province to the Iranian territories.”

However, according to Shaaban the main question is “Will Kirkuk remain part of the Iraqi territory until the completion of the implementation of the project?”

The referendum on Iraqi Kurdistan’s independence is scheduled for September 25.

Shaaban, while criticizing Tehran and Baghdad for not informing Kurdistan Regional Government authorities of their joint venture, told Asharq Al-Awsat, [Kirkuk oilfields are divided into two different blocs], the first bloc includes the fields of “Havana” and “Bay Hassan”, which are under the control of the Kurdistan Regional Government, while the second bloc includes three fields under the management of the “North Oil Company” of the Iraqi government in Kirkuk.

Therefore, Asharq Al-Awsat cited Shaaban as concluding, “If Baghdad authorities were able to complete the Kirkuk oil pipeline project with Iran, then Havana and Bay Hassan would not be included in this agreement”.

Namdar Zanganeh and al- Luaibi have agreed to hire an international company to carry out the study on the feasibility of constructing the pipeline from Kirkuk to Iran.

Iranian authorities have repeatedly declared their opposition to the scheduled referendum in Iraq’s Kurdistan.