Iraq’s Kurdistan to set up 2 oil firms as Irbil-Baghdad tensions escalate

IRBIL, Iraq: Iraq’s Kurdistan regional government is working to establish two oil firms, the latest move in a fight between Irbil and Baghdad over control of the oil field in the semi-autonomous region.

KRG’s new oil firm KROC will specialize in oil exploration, while the other – Como – will focus on exporting and marketing oil from the semi-autonomous region, a spokesman said in a statement on Friday.

A KRG spokesman said in a statement that the regional government had recently presented and discussed the idea with the federal government in Baghdad.

Months of disputes between Irbil and Baghdad came after a February federal court ruling that the legal foundations of the Kurdistan region’s oil and gas sector deemed unconstitutional.

The oil ministry in Baghdad has since made fresh efforts to control revenue from the Kurdistan region, including summoning seven firms working in a commercial court on May 19. The firms were Addax, DNO, Genal, Gulf Keystone, HKN, Shamran and Western Zagros.

Multiple sources told Reuters that the commercial court meeting has been postponed twice because some representations of these international oil firms did not have a power of attorney. The court session is scheduled to resume on June 20.

As well as announcing plans to set up its own oil company in the Kurdistan region, the Iraqi oil ministry asked international major contractors and sub-contractors not to work on contracts or projects through Basra Oil and Iraq’s national oil firm. Ordered to promise.

According to two sources familiar with the matter, through letters sent on June 7 and 12, the firms were given three months to terminate existing contracts or projects in the KRG oil field or face being blacklisted.

According to two sources, the oil ministry is using two law firms – Vincent & Elkins and Klee Gottlieb Stein & Hamilton – to help take control of the KRG oil field. Both firms have declined to comment.

KRG has repeatedly overruled the federal court’s decision. On 5 June, the Ministry of Natural Resources of the KRG filed a civil suit in Baghdad against the oil minister, Ihsan Ismail, for sending emails and letters to intimidate oil firms operating in the Kurdistan region and interfere with the contractual rights of these firms. filed suit. KRG, according to a statement dated June 13. Also on 5 June, the Irbil Court of Investigation ruled that commercial court sessions against international oil firms should be brought to the Irbil Court.

There have been attempts by the federal government over the years to bring KRG revenues under its control, including through local court decisions and threats of international arbitration.

The implications of the latest controversy are not entirely clear because more than eight months after the election in Iraq, government formation is still underway.

Turkish drone 4. shot down

In another development, a Turkish drone on Friday targeted a vehicle traveling in Iraq’s Kurdistan region, killing four Kurdish militants, Iraq’s Kurdistan’s counter-terrorism service said. In a statement, it said the drone hit the jeep in the city of Kalar in the northern province of Sulaymaniyah. The fifth passenger was injured and is undergoing treatment at the hospital.

The terrorists were from the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, which is listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the US and the European Union, and has led an insurgency in southeast Turkey since 1984, which has killed thousands.

Turkey regularly conducts air strikes in northern Iraq and sends commandos to support its attacks. In April, it launched its latest offensive in parts of northern Iraq called Operation Claw Lock – part of a series of cross-border operations that began in 2019 to counter the illegal PKK based in mountainous regions of northern Iraq was.

Turkey’s defense ministry said in a tweet on Friday that 6 PKK “terrorists” had been neutralized in Iraq as part of an ongoing military operation, but did not provide further details.