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Iraq finalizes deal to resume Kurdish crude exports to Turkey

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Iraq’s federal and Kurdish governments have finalized a deal to resume crude oil exports through Turkey pending a response from Ankara, Agence France-Presse reported, citing a statement from the autonomous Kurdistan region on Thursday.

Nearly a decade after launching an international arbitration, the Iraqi federal government in March won the right to control the autonomous Kurdistan region’s oil exports through Turkey, which had previously been exported without Baghdad’s approval.

The international ruling in March led to the suspension of exports, forcing the Kurdish government in Arbil to negotiate before reaching in early April a “temporary” deal with Baghdad to resume exports.

But grey areas had remained in the deal over technical and financial issues and exports have yet to resume after over a month of interruption.

“The Kurdistan regional government and the federal authorities have reached a deal on the resumption of oil exports” from the autonomous region, Arbil said in a statement Thursday.

Baghdad’s State Oil Marketing Organization (SOMO) “has officially requested from Turkey the resumption of oil exports from the Kurdistan region through the Kirkuk-Ceyhan pipeline,” the statement said.

Baghdad and Arbil “await Turkey’s response to resume exports,” it added.

Oil has long been a lifeblood for the Kurdish region, with 475,000 barrels exported daily via the Turkish port of Ceyhan.

Under the agreement, sales of Kurdistan’s crude will be managed by SOMO, with revenues paid into an account jointly owned by Baghdad and Arbil.

In early May, Iraq’s Oil Minister Hayan Abdel Ghani said Kurdish fields would resume operating in “a week or two maximum.”

He added that tests were being “carried out on oil pipelines” in Turkey following February’s devastating earthquake, causing delays in the resumption of exports.

But other details of the deal remained unclear, including “the management of the bank account, the money earned in return for exports… who has the right to administer this money,” Abdel Ghani said at the time.

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