ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – The Iranian Ministry of Petroleum on Sunday said Baghdad’s unpreparedness and technical issues in Iraq are behind the delay of an oil swap deal that was signed last year.
According to state-run Tasnim News, Iran’s Petroleum Ministry said the fault for the four-month delay “lies in Iraq’s failure to remove obstacles.”
“The slight delay in implementing the major deal on swapping the crude oil produced in northern Iraq is mainly because of unprepared infrastructures and some logistical deficiencies on Iraq's part,” it was quoted as saying.
The deal signed between Tehran and Baghdad looked to swap up to 60,000 barrels per day (bdp) of oil from Kirkuk for Iranian oil for one year and subject to renewal. Tanker trucks were to deliver crude oil from the disputed territory which fell to Iraqi forces and pro-Iran Shia militias in October last year.
The Petroleum Ministry reportedly dismissed rumors of “oil diplomacy negligence” or that political disagreements or issues were behind the delay in operations.
The deal, which was signed by Baghdad unilaterally, without discussions with the Kirkuk Provincial Council or parliament, raised concerns among locals who criticized the federal government for failing to build a single refinery in the province.
“We don’t know who controls and sells Kirkuk’s oil,” said Kirkuk resident Ahmed Sirwan earlier this year, expressing his concerns about the present situation in Kirkuk. “The benefits are for the few, and the suffering and adversity are for the people. Our life might have been much better if we did not have oil in Kirkuk.”
Kirkuk is one of the largest oilfields in the Middle East, estimated to contain around nine billion barrels of recoverable oil. The project has repeatedly been delayed, but the swap is expected to be launched later this month.