ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – Iraqi Oil Minister Jabar al-Luaibi on Sunday announced Baghdad will start exporting oil from the disputed province of Kirkuk to Iran before the end of January.
“About 30,000 barrels per day of crude will be trucked to Iran’s Kermanshah refinery in the first instance,” he said according to Reuters. “God willing, we will start before the end of the month.”
The recent deal signed with Tehran to swap up to 60,000 barrels per day (bpd) of oil from northern Kirkuk is for one year and subject to renewal, Luaibi said earlier in December.
An agreement between the two countries was signed last year which allows Iran to deliver crude “of the same characteristics and in the same quantities” as those it would receive from Kirkuk to southern Iraqi ports on the Gulf.
“This is an agreement for one year, and then we will see after that whether to renew it,” Luaibi told reporters in Kuwait on the sidelines of an Arab oil ministerial conference.
Oil sales have been halted since Iraqi forces and Iranian-backed Shia Hashd al-Shaabi militias took control of fields in Kirkuk Province from the Kurds following their Sep. 25 independence vote.
The deal allows Iraq to resume the production and sale of crude from Kirkuk where between 30,000 to 60,000 bpd of oil will be delivered by tanker trucks to the border area of Kermanshah (Kermanshan) in Iran.
The Iraqi Oil Minister also explained that the construction of an oil pipeline from Kirkuk to the Turkish port of Ceyhan would take one year to build, replacing an “old, badly damaged” section of the Kirkuk-Ceyhan pipeline.
After the Oct. 16 takeover of Kirkuk, Iraq’s oil minister ordered companies and departments working with his ministry to prepare the necessary paperwork for the new pipeline which will replace the severely damaged one. It will run from the city of Baiji to Faysh Khabur at the border with Turkey, an area which is still under the control of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG).
The new pipeline would also be used to bypass the Kurdistan Region’s pipeline, which has been running its own oil exports from the multi-ethnic province of Kirkuk since it secured the territory after Iraqi Forces failed to defend the area from IS in 2014.
Kirkuk is one of the largest oilfields in the Middle East, estimated to contain around nine billion barrels of recoverable oil.