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Published On: Mon, Jul 31st, 2017

Iran – Iraq discuss Kirkuk – Iran pipeline amidst uncertainties about Kurdistan

nsnbc : Iran and Iraq have strengthened ties between the two countries’ energy sectors, including the possible construction of a pipeline to export Kirkuk’s crude oil to refineries in Iran. The discussions come amidst increased uncertainty about Iraq’s, Iran’s Syria’s and Turkey’s Kurdistan regions.

Baba Gurgu_Kirkuk_Iraq_(archives)Iraq’s Oil Minister Jabbar Ali Hussein al-Luiebi met with his Iranian counterpart Bijan Zanganeh on Sunday where they discussed the strengthening of ties in the energy sector as well as Kirkuk’s oil.

The Iranian Ministry of Petroleum quoted Luiebi as saying “We discussed cooperation in joint delivery of Kirkuk crude oil to Iranian refineries.” The statement was reportedly made after a meeting with Zanganeh on Sunday.

Zanganeh, for his part, told reporters that the two agreed to have an international company carry out a feasibility study of the pipeline. The two had signed a memorandum of understanding on the exportation of Kirkuk oil to Iran in February.

Currently, Kirkuk’s oil is exported through the Kurdistan Regional Government’s (KRG) pipeline to Turkey’s Ceyhan port. Under an agreement between Erbil and Baghdad made last year, half of the revenues of sales of Kirkuk’s oil go to the Kurdistan Region.

Oil-rich Kirkuk is claimed by both Baghdad and Erbil. Two of its oil fields are under the control of the KRG and three are run by Iraq’s North Oil Company (NOC). Peshmerga of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) took control over NOC offices in Kirkuk in February.

Iran shells Kurdish Peshmerga in cross-border shelling

Iran shells Kurdish Peshmerga in cross-border shelling

Kirkuk will take part in the referendum this September, deciding whether they want to remain with Iraq or join Kurdistan’s bid for independence. The two ministers also discussed cooperation over oil production from two joint fields with the expectation of signing an agreement by next year, according to Iran’s oil ministry.

A possible conflict between the Kurdistan Autonomous Region of Iraq and the federal government in Baghdad could potentially disrupt the flow of oil via the Kirkuk – Ceyhan pipeline – causing losses for the Kurdistan Region as well as for Baghdad and Turkey.

It is also noteworthy that Iranian – Kurdish parties based in Iraq’s KAR increased their armed activities against military targets in northwestern Iran’s predominantly Iranian – Kurdish regions, while Iran, earlier this month, lobbed artillery shells across the border into Iraqi Kurdistan.

F/AK – nsnbc 31.07.2017

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