Kurdish Blocs Coalition wants Kurdistan to resume oil exports to end provocation against Kurds05/04/2012 11:30
BAGHDAD, April 5 (AKnews) - Kurdish Blocs Coalition MPs have called on the Kurdistan Regional Government to resume its oil exports in a bid to prevent anyone using the region's suspension to "provoke public opinion against Kurds".
As a "goodwill gesture" the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) should resume its oil exports despite the fact that the federal government has not complied with its promises to pay the dues of oil companies operating in the region, said Kurdish Blocs Coalition (KBC) spokesman Muayyad Tayyeb.
He said the issue of the dues of the oil companies operating in the region could be resolved in ways other than suspending oil exports "because the oil revenues go to the public not the government".
"The call on the Kurdistan Region to resume its oil exports is to prevent those who want to capitalize on the issue as a pretext to inflame the public opinion against Kurds."
At the same time the KBC at the Iraqi House of Representatives warned this will be the last chance for Baghdad to resolve the issue of non-payment of oil dues or else Kurdistan will resort to suspension of its oil exports once more.
Tayyeb called on the federal government to "deal with Kurdistan as part of Iraq not a foreign entity that has expansionist ambitions and lives on the wealth of Iraq".
KBC head Mohsen Saadun said that KBC's call on the regional government to resume its oil exports is a call for Baghdad, too.
"This call is also for the federal government. [For them] to know that there is still a solution and even the Iraqi nation does not generally hold the Kurdistan Region responsible [for the suspension of oil exports].
"Our call to resume oil exports is accompanied by a call for enforcing a federal budget law."
Saadun warned that KBC's call "will not last for long", indicating that there is a chance that oil exports may be suspended fully for a second time if Baghdad does not pay the dues.
"If the issue is related to the interest of the Iraqi nation then the concerned [bodies] in Baghdad should clearly state the reasons for not reimbursing the dues of the oil companies while they were paid before.
"So far we do not know the reasons for suspending the dues."
Member of the acting oil and energy committee at the House of Representatives Baha Hadi related the reasons to "ambiguities in the way the Kurdistan Regional Ministry of Natural Resources deals with the federal government, with regard to its oil export deals with some producing Norwegian companies.
"The federal government believes there are much larger amounts of oil produced than what is exported and announced by the regional government of Kurdistan. The federal government or the Ministry of Oil do not know the fate of this [surplus] oil which amounts to 50,000 bpd," said Hadi.
He added that Baghdad will pay the dues if it is informed about the real amount of produced oil and its whereabouts.
Kurdistan suspended its oil exports completely on April 1 as the Iraqi government failed, for the past ten months, to pay the dues of oil companies operating in the region.
Following the decision, the Deputy PM for Energy Affairs Hussein al-Shahrestani held a press conference where he restated that Kurdistan's oil contracts are illegal and that Kurds are not transparent in their oil deals.
Before taking the decision to suspend oil exports, the Kurdistan Region lowered exports from 175,000 to 50,000 barrels per day (bpd). Shahrestani warned that the suspension of exports would lead to reducing Kurdistan's share of Iraq's national budget issued from Baghdad.
When Kurdistan lowered its oil exports to 50,000 bpd, Iraqi Finance Minister Raf'e Isawi said that Baghdad agreed to pay $560m (652bn IQD) of the total $1.5bn (1.7tr IQD) of the outstanding dues of oil companies in the region.
The KRG called for the creation of a joint committee from Erbil, Baghdad and the Ministry of Oil to investigate al-Shahrestani and KBC's accusation about smuggling Iraqi and Kurdish oil to neighboring countries. Al-Shahrestani accused Kurdistan of withholding over $6bn (6.9tr IQD) of the revenues of smuggled oil.
KBC member Hakem Farhad believed the issue sources from "the fact that it seems al-Shahrestani does not understand the constitution well and he can't enforce his threats of cutting some portion of Kurdistan's budget".
The House of Representatives has allocated the budget to the Kurdistan Region by law. In addition to that, the investing companies will determine when to stop the oil exports, Farhad said.
"Sadly indeed, al-Shahrestani is using threatening language but he forgets that southern Iraq produces two million bpd while Kurdistan does not export more than 100,000 bpd."
Farhad thought that the recent remarks by deputy PM al-Shahrestani will only exacerbate the situation.
"The solution to such issues is to comply with the constitution, away from provocations and threats."
By Yazin al-Shamari, Haba Ali and Haidar Ibrahim