Baghdad unilaterally signs Kirkuk oil deals with BP, Iran: Officials

Baghdad made several agreements regarding Kirkuk oil without discussing it with the Kirkuk Provincial Council (KPC) and the provincial administration beforehand, Kirkuk officials said.
author_image Sangar Ali

ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – Iraq’s Federal Government made several agreements regarding Kirkuk oil without discussing it with the Kirkuk Provincial Council (KPC) and the provincial administration beforehand, Kirkuk officials said on Tuesday, calling the deals 'unconstitutional.’

Following the takeover of the oil-rich province of Kirkuk by the federal government on Oct. 16, Baghdad signed an agreement with the British energy giant BP to boost the production of oil in the province to one million barrels per day (bpd) output.

“In addition to damaging Kirkuk’s system of oil production, the agreements that the Iraqi government have signed are unconstitutional,” Ahmed Askari, the head of the energy committee in KPC, told Kurdistan 24 on Tuesday.

“It is unconstitutional because the deal has not been discussed with the KPC and administration officials of Kirkuk, but rather done unilaterally by Baghdad,” Askari added, saying Kirkuk officials were given no information about the deal, and according to Article 140 of the Iraqi constitution, any energy agreements in the province must be made in coordination with the local administration.

The official also highlighted Baghdad’s latest deals to export the province’s oil to Iraq, stating again the Iraqi government has discussed the deal with neither the KPC nor the Kirkuk administration.

Kirkuk is a diverse province with multiple ethnic and religious communities, including Turkmen, Arabs, Christians, and Kurds, who make up a majority of the population.

Mohammed Osman, a Kurdish lawmaker from Kirkuk in the Iraqi Parliament, told Kurdistan 24 “Unfortunately, none of us were aware of the agreements signed by the Iraqi government. They deal with Kirkuk oil as they wish. Thus, we have to issue a complaint in court against the steps that the Iraqi government has taken.”

Kirkuk is one of the disputed territories between the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and the federal government of Iraq. Historically claimed by the Kurds, it was under the protection of Kurdish Peshmerga forces from 2014 until the end of 2017, following the emergence of the Islamic State (IS).

On Oct. 16, Iraqi forces and Iranian-backed Shia Hashd al-Shaabi militias carried out a military attack and took control of Kirkuk and other disputed territories, pushing the Peshmerga from the territories. The offensive resulted in the displacement of over 180,000 people to the Kurdistan Region, mostly from Kirkuk.

“We don’t know who controls and sells Kirkuk’s oil,” said Kirkuk resident Ahmed Sirwan, 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.”

Editing by John J. Catherine

(Hemin Dalo contributed to this report)