KRG ready to implement oil deal with Iraqi government, deputy PM says

“Our talks in Baghdad have been positive, but they are still ongoing.”
Qubad Talabani, Deputy Prime Minister of the Kurdistan Region. (Photo: Azhi Omer)
Qubad Talabani, Deputy Prime Minister of the Kurdistan Region. (Photo: Azhi Omer)

ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – The deputy prime minister of the Kurdistan Region, Qubad Talabani, on Sunday reiterated Erbil’s readiness to fulfill its obligations in

The comment by Talabani, the head of the Kurdistan Regional Government’s (KRG) negotiating delegation with the federal Iraqi government, came during an interview with the Iraqi al-Sabah newspaper.

The Kurdish team visited the Iraqi capital multiple times last year to stamp out a deal on outstanding disputes. In December, Erbil and Baghdad reached a preliminary agreement on the former’s share in the national budget for 2021.

“Now our discussions are with political parties,” Talabani was quoted as saying. He added that the budget issue is currently “in the hands of [the Iraqi] Parliament, and we hope that we will reach a positive result with a fair and implementable agreement.”

Erbil-Baghdad Talks

Talabani explained, “our talks in Baghdad have been positive, but they are still ongoing with the Parliamentary Finance Committee and the political blocs, in general.”

“In our recent round of talks in Baghdad, the Parliamentary Finance Committee asked us 13 questions related to oil, export, domestic consumption and other figures.” The team, Talabani said, delivered the body the requested data as part of transparency efforts.

“We have nothing to hide.”

He also affirmed the talks are not just limited Kurdistan Region’s public employee salaries. “There are two halves of the dialogues: obligations and entitlements.”

According to a stipulation of the Erbil-Baghdad deal, the Kurdistan Region is to deliver 250 thousand barrels of oil per day to the Iraqi oil marketeer (SOMO). “We are ready to implement this agreement,” Talabani stated.

Talabani indicated that the KRG uses its oil revenues to pay its employees’ salaries. Since the start of 2020, the federal government has only paid the KRG its share of the federal budget for six months, for three of which “the funding was intermittent.”

SOMO, Oil Contracts

Talabani said that if SOMO “is restructured and includes Kurdish members on the board of directors, and they handle the issue of oil prices in an appropriate manner, serving the country, including the Kurdistan Region, then this is good and it is in everyone’s interests.”

Such restructuring has not happened, however, he added.

“In 2014, the federal government asked us to export the region’s oil through [SOMO], but we asked to re-establish the company again to carry out the marketing process so that we could transparently manage oil imports.”

The process was complicated and encountered political hurdles, the deputy premier explained. The KRG still “has no objection to this idea.”

"The Kurdistan Region is ready to adhere to all of its obligations with the federal government, whether it is about delivering oil, which amounts to 250 thousand barrels per day, or even non-oil resources at the region’s border-crossings, according to the laws in effect within the constitution.”

“But in return, the rights of the region must also be secured.”

Editing by Khrush Najari