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Iraq: Kurdish region loses $1.5bn since oil exports to Turkiye stopped

May 24, 2023 at 11:47 am

Flames indicate gas burn off at an oil drilling platform [Scott Peterson/Liaison]

The Kurdistan Regional Government in northern Iraq has lost more than $1.5 billion since oil exports to Turkiye were stopped, according to a report published on Tuesday by the US financial website Zero Hedge. Oil production in the region under KRG rule has continued to decline, extending a stoppage that has lasted nearly two months.

Export flows to Ceyhan port in Turkiye show few signs of resuming after Ankara halted Iraq’s 450,000 barrels per day exported through the Iraq-Turkiye pipeline on 25 March. The flow was stopped after the ICC ruled that Turkiye should pay Baghdad $1.5bn in damages for unauthorised exports.

“The stoppage is estimated to have cost the KRG more than $1.5bn,” said Zero Hedge. “Fields that had continued producing are now offline or operating with reduced output.”

About ten days ago, the Iraqi State Organisation for Marketing of Oil (SOMO) notified the Turkish state energy company, Petroleum Pipeline Corporation, which owns the pipelines, that export and loading operations will be resumed.

The Iraqi federal government and the Kurdish regional government signed an agreement last month to resume Kurdish oil exports via Turkiye, but Turkiye continued to stop the flow, saying that it wants to negotiate the arbitration before any resumption of exports from Iraq. Iraq’s economy relies heavily on crude oil exports, which make up over 90 per cent of the country’s revenues.

READ: Kurdish oil exports stay halted as Iraq negotiates with Turkiye

The delay in resuming exports comes at a time when the French multinational oil and gas company TotalEnergies has finally reached an agreement with the government of Iraq to start a long-delayed energy project worth an estimated $27bn. The two parties first agreed the deal in 2021, which will see Total building four oil, gas and renewable energy projects in southern Iraq over a period of 25 years, with initial investments of $10bn. However, the giant project was postponed amid disagreements and bickering between Iraqi politicians over the terms of the deal.

Last month, though, Iraq agreed to a smaller 30 per cent stake in the project, kickstarting a project that could attract foreign investment back into the country.