Iraq Kurds Halt Two Thirds of Oil Flow

Source: Reuters 9/11/2012, Location: Middle East

Iraq's Kurdistan has shut down the flow of crude from its Khurmala oilfield, cutting about two thirds of the autonomous region's 120,000-barrel daily output, oil ministry sources said.

Officials gave no reason for the stoppage, but Kurdistan has made similar moves before during a long-running dispute with the central government in Baghdad about territory and oil rights.

"As of yesterday evening, the flow of crude was halted from Khurmala oilfield. We are not sure if it is for technical reasons or a planned stoppage," a senior official at state-run North Oil Company told Reuters.

The shutdown halted about 75,000 to 80,000 barrels per day (bpd) from Khurmala, the official added. No one was immediately available for comment from the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG).

The KRG halted exports in April in a row over payments from Baghdad to companies working in the region.

It restarted them in what it said was goodwill gesture, but warned it would stop them again by September 15 if there was no progress on payments.

Last week, Baghdad said it was considering cutting federal budget payments to Kurdistan by more than $3 billion to cover losses it says came from the stoppage.

A deadline it gave the Kurds to send a delegation to Baghdad to discuss the crisis is set to pass on Tuesday.

Kurdistan has also fallen out with Baghdad in recent months by drawing up independent oil accords with foreign firms including Exxon, Chevron, Total and Gazprom.

Baghdad insists it alone has the right to export Iraqi crude and fears the deals may be part of a Kurdish push for more independence.


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