ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – The Iraqi Parliament on Monday voted to ban Kurdish engineering company Kar Group from operating oilfields in Kirkuk as a crackdown on the Kurdistan Region continues following the independence referendum held last September.
The vote came after lawmakers in the Iraqi Parliament claimed the Kurdish firm “refused to cooperate” with Iraq’s state-run North Oil Company (NOC) regarding the handing over of the Khurmala oilfield, Reuters reported.
The Parliament also granted NOC permission to take over production and export operations at the field which would likely increase Iraq’s oil production and crude exports.
On Sunday, Iraqi Oil Minister Jabar al-Luaibi announced that Baghdad would start exporting around 60,000 barrels per day (bpd) of oil from Kirkuk to Iran before the end of January.
The Iraqi lawmakers also requested the central bank in Iraq to draft a detailed report to track cash deposited at banks outside of the country that had been generated from Kurdish oil exports, Reuters said.
Senior officials in the Kurdistan Region, however, argue that Khurmala is located inside the official boundaries under the administration of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG).
Kar Group had been running some of Kirkuk’s oilfields since Kurdish Peshmerga forces took control of the province after the Iraqi army collapsed following the emergence of the Islamic State (IS) in 2014.
Kurdistan 24 was unable to reach Kar Group for further details on the matter.
The vote to ban the Kurdish engineering firm comes as Baghdad continues to impose collective punitive measures against the Kurdistan Region for holding an independence referendum on Sep. 25, 2017.
The Iraqi government responded by enforcing an international flight ban, border closures, and the use of military force to take back control of disputed areas including oil-rich Kirkuk.