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Iraqi Kurdistan to resume oil exports 'soon'

by Staff Writers
Arbil, Iraq (AFP) Feb 2, 2011
Iraqi Kurdistan is preparing to resume oil exports "soon" after a long standoff with central government authorities in Baghdad, the autonomous region's prime minister said Wednesday.

"Work is going on right now regarding resuming oil exports soon," Barham Saleh told AFP. "Companies have started conducting tests of the pumps to restart operations."

"We are optimistic of implementing the deal that has been agreed, and soon oil exports will resume," he added.

Baghdad and Kurdish authorities in Arbil have long argued over Kurdistan's oil since the region halted crude exports in October 2009 due to a payment dispute with Baghdad.

The two sides have argued as well over revenue sharing and the central government's refusal to recognise Kurdish contracts.

But last month, the two sides appeared to reach an agreement whereby Baghdad agreed to pay for the expenses of oil companies working in the region and exports were to resume on Tuesday.

Also on Wednesday, oil ministry spokesman Assem Jihad said in a statement that oil production in Iraq was expected to rise to three million barrels per day by the end of the year, from around 2.5 million barrels at present.

Oil revenues account for the lion's share of Iraq's government income.

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