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Baghdad-Erbil Crisis Looms after Oil Talks Collapse

Baghdad-Erbil Crisis Looms after Oil Talks Collapse

Monday, 9 May, 2022 - 08:15
Bai Hassan oil field, west of Kirkuk (Getty Images)

Iraqi Oil Minister Ihsan Abdul Jabbar has dropped a bombshell by acknowledging that no agreement has been reached with the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) over oil and energy, warning of a crisis erupting between Baghdad and Erbil.

Last March, the Federal Supreme Court announced a binding and final decision for all authorities in Iraq that the KRG has no jurisdiction to sell oil extracted from the region without Baghdad's consent.

While the KRG considered the top court’s decision politicized, it remains effective nationwide.

Moreover, Iraq said it will start implementing a court ruling that gives the federal authorities oversight of Kurdish production after failed talks with officials from the semi-autonomous region.

The Iraqi Oil Ministry did not reach an agreement with the Kurdistan Regional Government over oil output and exports after 75 days of talks, Jabbar said during a roundtable meeting with officials in the Iraqi National Oil Co.

Baghdad’s central government has long asserted its right to manage resources in Kurdistan, which has been pumping and selling oil independently.

The top court ruled in February that the Oil Ministry is the sole body in charge of all oil operations in the country.

“We are moving to implement the provisions of this ruling. It is not easy,” the minister said.

Jabbar on Saturday said that “starting the implementation of the resolution's provisions does not mean interrupting the dialogue,” and welcomed any approach from Erbil to continue discussions.

“We respect the constitutional authorities of the region and we propose to convert these authorities into a transparent standard system that fits the foundations of the oil industry,” he added.

Nevertheless, the Iraqi minister explained that the Iraqi National Oil Company will be responsible for managing the energy file internally, and the Oil Ministry will be responsible for dealing with the Finance Ministry and international and foreign bodies.

Kurdistan Region Prime Minister Masrour Barzani has slammed the court’s decision on multiple occasions.

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