KRG holding back on signing oil deal with Iran

Iraq, August 9, 2016

ERBIL, Kurdistan Region –

Three months have passed since the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) was expected to ink an oil agreement with Iran, but the KRG has yet to make the final commitment and sign the deal.

“The Iranian government stepped forward to sign the oil agreement with the KRG and for that they have been waiting for three months. But the KRG has remained silent,” Nazim Dabagh, the KRG representative in Iran, told Rudaw.

Dabagh revealed that according to talks between the KRG and Tehran “The agreement was to be signed on May 4, 2016. Iran is still waiting for a response from Kurdish officials.”

Dabagh believes that the KRG should make their decision known, “with a yes or a no.”

The Kurdistan Region has an estimated 45 billion barrels of crude oil reserves, which it administrates largely independent from Baghdad.

The deal with Tehran would give the KRG access to Iran’s Persian Gulf to ship its crude oil to international markets. Iran made the offer to Kurdish officials after a series of disruptions halted the shipment of Kurdish oil to Turkey’s Ceyhan port on the Mediterranean coast.

In early April, a KRG delegation headed by Taha Zangana, deputy minister of oil and natural resources, visited Tehran. The visit concluded with the decision to sign an agreement within a month.

Dabagh believes that the Kurdistan Region’s reluctance to sign the paperwork may be because a “50-year deal exists between the KRG and the Turkish government for selling oil.”

Abdullah Akraiy, general director of Iraq-Iran relations within the KRG, denied Dabagh’s claims, saying “Upholding any agreement between Tehran and Erbil has nothing to do with Erbil-Ankara oil agreements.”

“As far as I know, Iran has become silent in this project, too,” Akraiy added. “Possibly, the [KRG’s] Oil and Natural Resources Ministry could explain further in this regard.”