Iraq’s semi-autonomous region of Kurdistan has for the first time detailed its secretive oil exports operations and said it plans to sell more, whether Baghdad likes it or not, as it needs money to survive and fight Islamic State.
The region’s minister for natural resources, Ashti Hawrami, said that to avoid detection oil was often funneled through Israel, transferred directly between ships off the coast of Malta, and decoy ships used to make it harder for Baghdad to track.
Kurdistan says it had been forced to bypass Baghdad and begin exporting oil directly because the latter refused to respect budgets in 2014 and 2015. The current and former Iraqi central governments have both said the Kurds have failed to respect deals to transfer agreed volumes of oil to Baghdad.
Kurdistan is entitled to 17 percent of Iraqi’s overall budget, and argued it needed stable revenues to pay its bills, support over a million of refugees fleeing the war in Syria and Iraq finance its Peshmerga army fighting against Islamist militants.
Kurdistan is exporting over 500,000 barrels per day (bpd) of oil – or every seventh barrel of OPEC’s second largest exporter – and believes that Baghdad has now accepted, at least in part, direct Kurdish exports going to as many as 10 countries.
“Effectively, we have been financially discriminated against for a long time. By early 2014, when we did not receive the budget, we decided we need to start thinking about independent oil sales,” Hawrami told Reuters.
De kurdiske Peshmergaer er nogle af de eneste, der har kunnet beskytte dele af Irak imod ISIS, men på trods af det har Baghdadregeringen gjort, hvad de kunne for at kvæle kurderne økonomisk. Samtidig har Hussein Obama forhindret kurderne i at sælge deres olie på det amerikanske marked.