World Bulletin / News Desk
Iraq's semi-autonomous region of Kurdistan plans to halt oil exports on Aug. 31 if the central government does not make all outstanding payments, which could mean the proposed increase in Iraq's overall shipments to world markets will be brief.
Kurdistan said on Wednesday it would restart exports this week in a bid to end the payments dispute with Baghdad. The Kurdistan Regional Government says the central government has withheld payment of $1.5 billion.
Natural Resources Minister Ashti Hawrami made the statement giving the end-August deadline in a letter posted on the KRG's website and addressed to oil companies DNO, Genel Energy and Kar Group.
"What I have in mind is to restart the oil export for only one month, ie for all of the August period," Hawrami wrote in the letter, dated July 28.
"If the payments are not released by the end of this period, then we agree to halt all the export at the midnight of 31st August."
The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and Baghdad are locked in a long-running feud over oil and land rights that has shut in exports for the past four months from the oilfields being tapped by foreign oil companies in the northern region.
Letters released on the KRG website show the companies were initially reluctant to go along with the export restart.
Genel Chief Executive Tony Hayward said in a letter to Hawrami the company had not been paid for the majority of oil exported in 2009 and 2011. "This has had a very significant impact on our operations," the letter said.
The KRG statement on Wednesday said exports would remain at 100,000 barrels per day (bpd) for a month and if payments were forthcoming, could move swiftly up to 200,000 bpd.
Under Iraq's budget, the KRG is to supply 175,000 bpd of crude for export, but the KRG halted the trade in early April, saying Baghdad owed it a backlog of payments.
The central government is required to route 50 percent of the KRG's export earnings to Kurdistan to cover producing companies' previous costs. Baghdad issued two payments in 2011, totaling $514 million; the KRG said it is owed $1.5 billion.
Crude produced in Kurdistan is fed into Iraq's Kirkuk export stream and sold onto world markets via theTurkish Mediterranean port of Ceyhan. The KRG export halt had cut Kirkuk shipments by a quarter to below 300,000 bpd.
Iraq is boosting oil sales from its southern ports following an increase in export capacity earlier this year. Adding another 100,000 bpd to northern exports would bring Iraq's overall shipments to around 2.6 million bpd, a postwar record.
Iraq's oil dispute with Kurdistan has escalated after Baghdad threatened to cancel a contract withFrance's Total for signing Kurdish deals and a unit of Russia's Gazprom also entered the autonomous area.
Total and Gazprom followed U.S. majors Exxon and Chevron in signing oil accords with Kurdistan.
Activists decry decision by Cambodia’s Ministry of Labour, one warning could lead to civil unrest
The move was cheered by the Zambia Congress of Trade Unions and Federation of Free Trade Unions
With overnight temperatures already nudging below freezing in Ukraine, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso hailed an accord clinched in Brussels
Xinhua said China has sent 20 teams to Thailand, the Philippines, Malaysia, Cambodia and other neighbouring countries, arresting 75 suspects.
Supporters say law will return country to energy self-sufficiency; critics say it is too lenient on companies.
The toll is expected to be introduced in 2016. Motorists have to pay it by registering their license plates via the internet. Foreigners can also pay the levy at gas stations
Moscow's Arbitration Court ruled in favour of prosecutors who said Bashneft was unlawfully sold to local authorities in the early 2000s before being sold in 2009 to oil-to-telecoms conglomerate Sistema
Waste oil from Chinese dinner tables to power airplanes by converting into aviation biofuel
The World Bank announced Singapore had been ranked the best country to do business in for a ninth consecutive year
LPG "certainly provides lower carbon dioxide per unit of energy than diesel and petrol when used in vehicles" expert claims
52 countries and regions including Germany, UK and South Africa agree to exchange financial information
OPEC members have previously said they wanted oil at around $100 a barrel
World stocks rose on Wednesday, lifted by strong corporate earnings and investor optimism that the U.S. Federal Reserve won't raise interest rates for some time, even as it is expected to officially wind down its bond-buying stimulus programme
London-based solar plant developer aims to bring solar power generated in Tunisia to Europe as electricity in 2018.
All 48 of the country's nuclear reactors were gradually taken offline following Fukushima, the world's worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl in 1986.
British PM said the bill made it harder to make the case to keep Britain in the European Union before a membership referendum he has promised in 2017 if he is re-elected next year.