ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – Oil flows in Kurdistan are on the rise despite sanctions imposed by Baghdad after the Region’s vote for secession, but still remain below their original output levels, according to oil sources.
The Kurdistan Region’s oil production rose over the past month, reaching their highest levels since heightened tensions between the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and the Iraqi government reached a critical point following the historic Sep. 25 independence referendum.
According to oil sources, although crude flow is on the rise, the total volume is still about half of the original export levels before the Erbil-Baghdad crisis negatively affected supplies.
An oil source told Reuters that Kurdistan’s oil flows increased to about 270,000 barrels per day (bpd) on Wednesday and Thursday compared to 200,000 and 230,000 bpd recorded in the previous month.
“It is an increase in pumping for technical factors,” the source said. “Total flows are still well below normal.”
Before Baghdad imposed sanctions on the Kurdistan Region, oil flows and exports from the Kirkuk-Ceyhan pipeline were normally about 600,000 bpd, the source added.
There was visible euphoria in the Region leading up to the independence vote as thousands gathered in cities across Kurdistan in support of the historic plebiscite.
On Sep. 25, over 70 percent of the population turned out to vote, with over 93 percent choosing to secede from Iraq.
However, Baghdad refused to accept the results of the referendum, declaring it unconstitutional, and imposed several punitive measures against the people of the Kurdistan Region including the closure of international flights, borders, and the use of military force to reclaim control over disputed territories.
The takeover of Kirkuk by Iraqi forces and Iranian-backed Shia Hashd al-Shaabi militias on Oct. 16 affected Kurdish crude exports.
The Federal Government of Iraq recently announced an agreement with Iran to export crude oil from Kirkuk fields via tank trucks until a pipeline is constructed.
However, two of the province’s oil fields were under the control of the KRG and exports were through the Turkish Ceyhan pipeline. Three oilfields are run by Iraq’s NOC and export 60,000 oil bpd to Turkey while the rest is exported abroad through the south of Iraq.
Meanwhile, Turkey’s Ceyhan exports, one of the Region’s main pipelines, continues to decrease.
Editing by Nadia Riva