Iraq and Kurdistan officials meet to discuss resumption of oil exports

The Iraq Minister of Oil Hayyan Abdul Ghani
The Iraq Minister of Oil Hayyan Abdul Ghani. Photo: Ministry's website

Officials from Iraq’s oil sector convened on Sunday with representatives from Iraqi Kurdistan and oil companies to explore restarting oil exports through the pipeline to the Turkish port of Ceyhan.

Iraqi Oil Minister Hayyan Abdul-Ghani told the official Iraqi news agency that talks with Turkey are underway to resume oil exports to the port of Ceyhan.

The crude oil flow through the Iraq-Turkey oil pipeline, which formerly accounted for about 0.5 percent of global oil supply, has been halted since March 2023 due to legal and financial uncertainties.

“There is a progress in these negotiations, and we hope that in the coming few days we will reach a final understanding in this regard,” Iraq’s oil minister, Hayyan Abdul Ghani, said Sunday in a televised interview on the state-run Iraqiya channel.

During the meeting in Baghdad attended by Iraqi Oil Minister Hayan Abdul-Ghani and Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) Ministry of Natural Resources officials, discussions revolved around restarting oil exports from northern Iraq. Iraqi Oil Ministry’s invitation to Kurdish authorities and global oil firms led to the gathering, as reported by Sky News Arabia.

A Ministry of Oil official mentioned that a final agreement has not been reached yet, but the meeting had many positive aspects.

Primarily, the distribution of oil revenues remains a key point of contention between Baghdad’s federal government and the KRG.

Following the International Chamber of Commerce’s (ICC) 2023 decision in Paris that Ankara violated a 1973 treaty by facilitating oil exports without federal government consent, the Iraq-Turkey oil pipeline was shut down.

In early June, the Association of the Petroleum Industry of Kurdistan (APIKUR) refuted claims attributing the ongoing dispute over restarting oil exports to the alleged intransigence of foreign oil firms.

Reports suggesting that negotiations hit a stalemate due to foreign oil companies’ inflexibility have been rejected by APIKUR. No coordinated talks involving foreign oil firms, Iraqi government officials, and the KRG have taken place since January 2024.

Despite discussions among Iraqi Kurdistan officials, Baghdad’s federal government, and Turkish authorities, foreign oil companies in Iraqi Kurdistan have ceased production, and shipments are yet to resume.