Iraqi Kurdistan oil minister: Reforms to start in 2016

HEWLÊR-Erbil, Kurdistan region ‘Iraq’,— Kurdish oil minister Ashti Hawrami said Tuesday that reforms in Iraqi Kurdistan will begin at the start of 2016, and that Baghdad-Erbil talks are scheduled to resume. “Although reforms require time and wealth, we will start it in the beginning of 2016,” said Hawrami, minister of oil and natural resources at the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG). He was speaking at the 5th Kurdistan-Iraq Oil and Gas Conference in London. Hawrami added that KRG-Baghdad interests at this time are to resume negotiations to resolve long disputes, which revolve around oil sales and the budget. “(KRG) intends to resume talks with Baghdad in hopes of resolving issues between both sides,” he said, also mentioning the KRG’s payments of oil and gas. “Oil companies working in the Kurdistan region will continue receiving the installment of their regular payments and the KRG is committed to the agreements it signed with International companies,” the minister explained. A London court, ruling in a dispute that dragged on for six years, has ordered the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in Iraq to pay $1.98 billion to a consortium including Dana Gas of the United Arab Emirates, Dana said on Sunday. A tribunal of the London Court of International Arbitration directed that the payment be made within 28 days. The judgement is final, binding and internationally enforceable, Dana said in a statement to the Abu Dhabi stock exchange. Referring to Kurdistan’s war with the Islamic State group (ISIS), Hawrami explained: “if there was no ISIS or security instabilities in Iraq, we would be able to produce a record number of one million barrel of oil per day.” Currently, he said, the KRG’s priority is to handle electricity shortages in the region. To do that “we should rely on alternative energies than the gas.” The 5th Kurdistan-Iraq oil and gas conference kicked off Monday in London and will end Wednesday.