Iraqi speaker, Kurdish region leader to discuss oil

Thursday, February 27, 2014

IRBIL, Iraq - Iraq's Parliament Speaker visited Irbil on Thursday to hold talks with the Kurdish Regional Government's (KRG) leader in an attempt to solve tension between the sides over oil exports and budget distribution, according to diplomatic sources.

Tension has mounted recently between Baghdad and Irbil over the latter's right to export oil independently of the central government.

The Kurdish administration maintains it has a constitutional right to sign export deals without the prior approval of Baghdad, which, for its part, refuses to acknowledge agreements signed between Irbil and foreign oil companies.

Iraqi member of parliament Jamal Gailani told AA that Parliament Speaker Osama Al-Nujaifi would try to convince KRG leader Massoud Barzani to resolve the crisis.

"Iraq's budget could not be voted on after 57 Kurdish MPs did not attend the parliamentary session... Nujaifi will express demands to Barzani," said Gailani.

Iraqi lawmakers were set to meet Thursday to vote on a number of bills, but the session was postponed indefinitely because of a lack of quorum.

Relations between Baghdad and the KRG have been strained since early 2013, when Iraq's parliament passed a budget for the Kurdish region over Kurdish officials' objections.

Iraq, which holds the world's fourth largest oil reserves, had previously announced plans to increase its daily production to eight million barrels per day by the end of 2017.

Current daily oil output from KRG alone stands at between 350,000 and 400,000 barrels per day, according to the latest reports.

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