Ashti Hawrami, Kurdish natural resources minister during a speech at a congress on oil and gas in London responded with hope to the question on whether the interim agreement on oil revenues between Erbil and Baghdad will mend the existing problems between both parties.
"I would say, for the first time, I am hopeful," Hawrami said.
According to the interim agreement between the Kurdish Regional Government, KRG, and the central government, the Kurdish region will export 250,000 barrels of oil per day and its Kirkuk province will export 300,000 barrels per day while Baghdad will allocate 17 percent of the Iraqi oil budget to the Kurdish region.
The export of Northern Iraqi oil through the Turkish port of Ceyhan without the consent of Federal Iraqi government strained the relationship between Erbil and Baghdad, triggering a legal wrestle in international courts which included the U.S. and Paris-based arbitration courts. The interim agreement thawed the relations between both parties who are now willing to come to the table for further negotiations to allocate the budgetary payments and oil revenues.
"Colleagues in Baghdad know that the KRG is self-sufficient and this helps the federal government move forward and realize a solution is attainable," said Hawrami.
According to the minister, the current production and current export levels are not sufficient to cover the seven billion dollars that the KRG has borrowed internally to finance the oil and gas projects from its neighbors and the local community.
Exports through the Kurdish pipeline are approaching 400 thousand barrels a day, said Hawrami. In the first quarter of 2015, it is expected to reach around 500 thousand barrels and in 2016, the KRG aims to meet its production target of 1 million barrels per day.
"The priority of the KRG is to confront extremism in Iraq", said Hawrami, and added that to this end, they have taken special measures to ensure the security of the oil fields and export facilities in the Kurdish region.
"We, in Kurdistan, are fighting the evil of terrorism and extremism on behalf of the civilized world and we need your help in this regard now," said Hawrami.