Iraq’s Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) is holding back on the conclusion of an oil agreement with Iran, and one source with the knowledge of the matter believes Turkish dealings might be getting in the way.
Three months have passed since the KRG undertook to ink an oil agreement with Iran, but it has yet to go the last mile, the website of Rudaw, a Kurdish media group based in the Iraqi city of Erbil, reported on Monday.
It quoted KRG representative in Iran Nazim Dabagh as saying that the agreement was to be signed on May 4 but Tehran was still waiting for a response from Kurdish officials.
“The Iranian government stepped forward to sign the oil agreement with the KRG and for that they have been waiting for three months. But the KRG has remained silent,” Rudaw quoted him as saying.
“The KRG should make their decision known ’with a yes or a no’,” Dabagh said, according to Rudaw.
Under the deal, Iran has offered to give the KRG access to the Persian Gulf to ship its crude oil to international markets. According to Rudaw, Iran made the offer after a series of disruptions halted the shipment of Kurdish oil to Turkey’s Ceyhan port on the Mediterranean coast.
In early April, a KRG delegation headed by the man in charge of KRG oil and natural resources Taha Zangana visited Tehran and the two sides agreed to sign an agreement within a month, the report said.
Dabagh believes the Kurdistan region’s reluctance to sign the paperwork may be because a “50-year deal exists between the KRG and the Turkish government for selling oil,” it said.
General director of Iraq-Iran relations within the KRG Abdullah Akraiy denied the claim, saying the delay “has nothing to do with Erbil-Ankara oil agreements.”
“As far as I know, Iran has become silent on this project too,” Akraiy added.
Iran has close relations with the central Iraqi government which is wary of the KRG’s unilateral agreements with foreign sides for the exploitation of hydrocarbon reserves in the Kurdistan region and their sales.