ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – Iraqi security forces are preparing an operation to establish control of an area on the border with Iran to begin the transport of Iraqi oil, two officials said on Monday.
The unnamed officials told Reuters the operation to secure the Hamrin mountain range—which lies between oil fields in Kirkuk and the town of Khanaqin at the Iranian border—could begin this week.
The transport of crude was supposed to begin last week, but oil officials in Iraq said the delay was “technical in nature,” Reuters reported.
Some reports suggest the area contains a militant group known as the “White Flag” which is comprised of Sunni fighters of various backgrounds fighting against Iraqi security forces, namely the Hashd al-Shaabi militias.
Last December, Iraqi oil officials announced they had signed a one-year agreement with Tehran to transport Kirkuk’s crude oil to Iran’s Kermanshah refinery.
The deal allows Iraq to resume the production and sale of crude from Kirkuk where between 30,000 to 60,000 barrels of oil per day (bpd) will be delivered by tanker trucks.
The agreement was signed after the military takeover of the disputed oil-rich province by Iraqi forces and the Iranian-backed Hashd al-Shaabi militias in response to the Kurdistan Region’s independence referendum in September.
Kurdish forces took control of the province in 2014 following the emergence of the Islamic State (IS) and the collapse of the Iraqi army.
Kirkuk is one of the largest oilfields in the Middle East, estimated to contain around nine billion barrels of recoverable oil.