Iraq wants Kurdish Kar Group to halt oil operations in Kirkuk

By Khalid Al-Ansary on 1/8/2018

BAGHDAD (Bloomberg) -- Iraq’s parliament wants the Kurdish Kar Group to halt work at its oil operations in the disputed northern region of Kirkuk, which the central government reclaimed from the OPEC country’s semi-autonomous Kurdish authorities in October.

Parliament voted to ask the Oil Ministry to stop Kar from operating in Kirkuk fields, Ali Muarej, a member of the parliament’s oil and gas committee, said Monday by phone. In October, Iraq’s North Oil Co. was working with Kar to resume pumping at Bai Hassan and Avana oil fields in Kirkuk that had halted output on Oct. 16, due to fighting between the semi-autonomous Kurds in the north and the central government in Baghdad. Kar and North Oil weren’t immediately available for comment.

Iraqi forces took control of oil fields around Kirkuk in October, which the Kurds had held since 2014, when they fought to protect the area from the onslaught of Islamic State militants. Bai Hassan and Avana had been pumping about 275,000 bopd before the Iraq government troops recaptured them. The fighting was sparked after the Kurdish region held an independence referendum, which the federal government rejected. Kar also operates the crude pipeline that exports crude from the Kurdish region to Turkey.

Iraq has “very ambitious” plans to rehabilitate the fields around Kirkuk, Oil Minister Jabbar al-Luaibi told reporters in Vienna in November.

Iraq pumps most of its 4.42 MMbpd from fields in the south and ships it from the Persian Gulf port of Basra. The country is the second-biggest producer of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries.

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