Arbil, Iraq (AFP) Feb 7, 2011
Kurdish officials said Monday a deal with Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki calling for Baghdad to honour contracts signed by the autonomous region with foreign firms was sealed last month.
Their remarks came after Maliki told AFP in an interview on Saturday that Baghdad would respect the contracts, ending a stand-off between the central government and regional authorities.
"The agreement was completed in Baghdad," Kurdistan regional government spokesman Kawa Mahmud said.
"The meeting was attended by Maliki, central government Oil Minister Abdelkarim al-Luaybi and a delegation from Kurdistan headed by (regional prime minister) Barham Saleh."
Mahmud said he could not recall whether the meetings were held on January 16 or 17, but said it was then that the two sides "agreed about the oil contracts, including the profit-sharing contracts."
Saleh's spokesman Twana Ahmed added that during Saleh's last visit to the Iraqi capital, "We agreed with Maliki on two issues: the first was the oil contracts, and the second was the regional budget."
In his remarks on Saturday, Maliki said Baghdad finally agreed to honour the contracts because extracting crude in Kurdistan was more difficult and costly than in the south.
"The oil ministry accepted these contracts because the nature of the extraction in Kurdistan is different from Basra," Maliki said of the oil-rich southern province.
"There is a need for bigger efforts there, while in Basra it (oil) is closer to the surface. It's difficult to have service contracts in Kurdistan but it's normal to have them in southern Iraq," he added.
The two Kurdish fields currently being exploited in the northern region are Tawke, run by Norwegian energy firm DNO, and Tuk Tuk field, run by Turkey's Genel Enerji. Deals with both firms were signed in 2004.
Shares in DNO rose sharply Monday as it awaited official confirmation of the deal that would make it possible for it to resume oil exports from Iraq's Kurdish region.
Kurdistan stopped exporting oil in October 2009 in a dispute with Baghdad over payments to foreign energy companies, and the two sides had been locked in a row ever since.
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Oil turns higher on Chinese economic surge
Singapore (AFP) Jan 21, 2011
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