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Iraq awaits Turkey’s response to resume Kurdish oil exports

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Iraq is still waiting for a formal response from Turkey to resume oil exports from the autonomous Kurdish region, Agence France-Presse reported, citing Kurdish officials on Friday, a day after Baghdad announced they were to resume Saturday.

The Kurdish regional government had for years earned billions of dollars in revenues exporting crude oil to Turkey without the Iraqi federal government’s approval.

But the exports were suspended in late March when international arbitrators ruled in favor of the Iraqi federal government’s right to control oil exports going through Turkey.

Iraqi Oil Minister Hayan Abdel Ghani had on Thursday said that crude exports from the Kurdish region through the Turkish port of Ceyhan would resume Saturday.

But on Friday the Kurdish natural resources minister, Kamal Mohamed, told a Kurdish television channel that the resumption of exports was still awaiting approval from Ankara.

“We are waiting for a decision from Turkey regarding the date for the resumption of exports,” he told the Rudaw news channel.

“Iraq is ready to resume exports,” he said, noting that Iraq had sent a letter on Wednesday informing Turkey of the decision to resume exports and was awaiting a response on the date.

Following years of wrangling, the Iraqi federal and Kurdish governments had reached a preliminary deal in early April, granting the Baghdad government control over exports with a view to immediately resuming sales.

On Thursday the Kurdish authorities in Arbil said in a statement that they had reached a final deal with Baghdad.

Under the agreement, sales of Kurdistan’s crude will be managed by the State Oil Marketing Organization (SOMO), with revenues paid into an account jointly held by Baghdad and Arbil.

The agreement is expected to boost federal government coffers, which in March raised $7.5 billion from oil exports.

It also puts an end to the independence claimed by the Kurdish authorities over oil exports for nearly a decade.

Oil has long been a lifeblood for the Kurdish region, with 475,000 barrels exported daily via Turkey.

The disruption of oil exports for more than a month had created a shortfall of around a billion dollars in revenue to authorities in Arbil, analyst Kovand Shirwani said.

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