World Bulletin/News Desk
Iraqi central government officials and Kurdish region leaders have stressed eliminating differences for a more cohesive oil policy.
"We are very optimistic about overcoming the dispute between the Iraqi government and the Kurdish region," said Adil Abdul-Mahdi, Iraq's minister of oil, speaking at the Atlantic Council Energy and Economic Summit 2014 in Istanbul on Thursday.
"We need good leadership to overcome our difficulties, and I think we have it now on the both sides," said Mahdi.
A dispute between Baghdad and Erbil over the sale of oil turned into an international legal wrangle as the Iraqi government brought suit against the Kurdish region in foreign courts. But the central government and the Kurdish region signed a temporary agreement to settle the oil dispute, clearing the way for a permanent settlement to be enacted in a joint hydrocarbon law.
"As Iraqis, we have to sit together and prepare a draft for a hydrocarbon law. Within a few weeks the government should present the draft to parliament," said Mahdi.
"In the absence of a hydrocarbon law, we interpreted the constitution in our own way. But none of us will benefit from discord between the two parties; we have to share these riches together," said Mahdi.
Ashti Hawrami, Kurdish minister of oil, said: "It shows good progress that the good friend Mahdi and I now share the same platform here."
There were disagreements between Baghdad and Erbil but these were constitutional disputes that could be overcome, Hawrami said. "Hopefully with a new colleague and a new policy, we will find a way to bridge our differences," he said.
Tony Hayward, head of Genel Energy, the major oil company operating in Northern Iraq, said: "It looks like 2014 will be a seminal year for the Kurdish region's oil and gas prospects."
Genel Energy remains very confident in the ability of regional government to secure the company’s operations and Genel does not see security as an impediment for production of both oil and gas, said Hayward.
The Kurdish region is an important part of the operating portfolio of MOL, a Hungarian energy company operating in the Kurdish region, its vice president Alexander Dodds said.
MOL is also looking for ways to integrate upstream with downstream in the region, Dodds said.
The company kept on operating in the region because it has confidence for the Kurdish government to secure it, he said.
MOL tries to increase production in different fields and is having constructive discussions with the regional government, Dodds added.
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