ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – A delegation from Baghdad will soon meet with officials from the autonomous Kurdistan Region to discuss disputes related to oil exports and other budget agreements, Iraq’s Oil Minister Thamer Ghadhban said on Thursday.
Ghadhban also stated that his ministry had conducted research to boost oil output capacity from Kirkuk Province's oilfields by 50 percent of the current level, Reuters reported.
Earlier this month, the Iraqi official visited Kirkuk and said that the Iraqi federal government would build a refinery in the province that would boost barrels of oil per day (bpd) that Kirkuk is able to produce.
“The ministry has put the final touches on building an investment refinery in Kirkuk with a capacity of 150,000 barrels per day and according to the latest international standards,” he said.
Exports from oil fields in Kirkuk to Turkey’s Ceyhan port rose to 99,000 bpd in March, from 63,000 bpd the month before, according to the ministry’s statement.
The disputed province, claimed by both the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and the federal government of Iraq, has some of the oldest and largest oilfields in the Middle East.
Since 2014, Kirkuk’s oil was exported through the Kurdistan Region to Turkey. However, the shipment was halted after the military takeover by Iraqi forces and Shia militias in the province on Oct. 16, 2017. On Nov. 16, 2018, Baghdad restarted exports of Kirkuk oil to Turkey through the Kurdistan Region’s oil pipeline at a rate of around 50,000 bpd.
Iraq is the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries’ (OPEC) second-largest producer just after Saudi Arabia and currently has an output below its maximum capacity of nearly five million bpd.
In early January, Baghdad reaffirmed its commitment to cut annual oil production as per an agreement between OPEC and additional non-member states such as Russia – known together as OPEC+ – to curtail global supply and bolster prices.
Editing by John J. Catherine