Oil firms eye Iraqi PM’s White House visit to restart Kurdistan Region oil exports

SULAIMANI, Kurdistan Region — The upcoming visit of Iraqi Prime Minister to the White House next week presents a crucial opportunity, according to international oil companies represented by the Kurdistan Region’s Association of Petroleum Industry (APIKUR), to reinitiate oil exports from the Kurdistan Region.

In a statement, APIKUR highlights the significance of the upcoming meeting between US President Joe Biden and Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammad Shia al-Sudani at the White House. They see it as a “key opportunity” to finalize agreements on oil production and exports via the Iraq-Turkey pipeline.

“APIKUR is optimistic that the high-level meeting between Al-Sudani and Biden will create urgency among all stakeholders to swiftly resolve issues and restore full production and exports from Iraq’s Kurdistan Region.”

For over a year, Kurdistan Region’s oil exports have been halted following an International Court of Arbitration ruling that favored Iraq over Turkey, which transported the Kurdistan Region’s oil without the consent of Baghdad.

Despite Turkey’s announcement in October 2023 that it was prepared to restart exports through the Iraq-Turkey pipeline, it has remained closed. Consequently, the international oil market has suffered a loss of approximately 400,000 barrels of oil per day, leading to upward pricing pressures on a global scale, according to APIKUR.

It further indicates that the failure to reach an agreement between Erbil, Baghdad and the oil firms to resume exports has resulted in Iraq losing over $14.5 billion in export revenues, along with significant missed opportunities for employment and investment for the people of Iraq, the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), the Iraqi government, and international oil companies.

Kurdistan Region’s one-year halt in oil exports costs billions, oil firms report

Last month, the Iraq’s Ministry of Oil attributed the failure to resume oil exports to APIKUR, as stated by the ministry.

The ministry stated that APIKUR refuses to deliver the oil they produce to the KRG.

It also stated that, “A significant reason for the current halt in exports is the refusal of foreign companies operating in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq to officially handover their production to the regional government for exportation in compliance with the prevailing federal general budget law.”

However, Myles B. Caggins III, spokesman for APIKUR, asserts that the companies are “eager to immediately reach a mutually beneficial resolution” to restart the oil exports, adding that “A strong and stable oil and gas sector will continue to attract foreign investment benefitting all Iraqi people.”

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