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Erbil willing to hand over all oil revenues if Baghdad pays for logistics, settles debt : official document

The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) has told Baghdad it is willing to hand over all its oil revenues to the federal government if Baghdad covers logistical fees and settles the debt owed by Erbil,  according to a document released to the media on Wednesday.

Ahmed al-Saffar, a member of Baghdad’s finance committee, told Rudaw English on Wednesday that the document, sent to Baghdad last week, is a list of responses from the KRG to questions posed about oil revenue, amid ongoing talks between Erbil and Baghdad over long-standing budget disputes.

“The Finance Committee had sent 13 questions to  the KRG regarding oil, and the committee got the response a week ago with the delegation of Deputy Prime Minister Qubad Talabani,” Saffar said.

A KRG delegation, led by Talabani, has visited Baghdad multiple times to come to a deal on the 2021 federal budget, upon which the KRG is dependent for its funds.

According to an official document sent to Rudaw, confirmed to be authentic by Saffar, the KRG has said it is ready to “hand over all oil revenues from the Kurdistan Region, provided that the federal government adheres to the cost of production, transportation, and storage, in addition to settling the debt owed by the KRG.”

The document also showed the KRG’s readiness to review oil contracts, which has opened channels for negotiation with oil companies as part of its oil reform program.

Kurdistan Region Prime Minister Masrour Barzani rejected, on Wednesday, demands by Baghdad  to hand over the entirety of its all oil and non-oil revenues of Kurdistan region to the federal government , stating that these demands are unconstitutional.

“There are several proposals regarding Kurdistan region’s share in the bill, including handing half of non-oil revenues, along with 250 thousand barrels per day, but we will never accept handing all of our revenues,” Barzani said in a press conference reported by Iraqi state media.

The issue of oil has long been a thorny one between Erbil and Baghdad. The KRG has operated an independent oil and gas sector since 2006 and later began exporting its oil to the international market via a pipeline through Turkey in 2013.

Years of tensions over the independent oil sales came to a head in 2014 when then-PM Maliki suspended the Kurdistan Region’s share of the federal budget – leaving hundreds of thousands of public sector employees unpaid for months.

In December 2019, Baghdad agreed to send Erbil a 12.67 percent share of the federal budget in exchange for 250,000 barrels of oil per day. Neither side fully abided by the agreement, however.

The issue came to a head once again in 2020, over plans for the 2021 budget and the amount of oil Erbil owes Baghdad. The two sides have finalized a deal for the 2021 budget, but the Iraqi parliament has yet to pass the bill. Source: Rudaw