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Kurdistan meets monthly payments to oil producers despite crisis



Foreign oil producers in Iraqi Kurdistan said they received on time monthly payments for crude sales from the local government as it faces threats of sanctions from Baghdad and Turkey following a controversial independence referendum.

London-listed Genel Energy and its partners received $10.39 million from the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) for sales in July from the Taq Taq oil field.

Norwegian oil and gas producer also said it had received $39.5 million for sales from the Tawke field in which Genel holds a 25 percent stake.

Genel and DNO have consistently received monthly payments over the past two years from the KRG, which reimburses producers for oil exports from the Turkish port of Ceyhan via a pipeline from Kirkuk.

After the September 25 referendum, Baghdad and Ankara threatened to impose sanctions on Kurdistan, including suspending pipeline exports and restricting banking transactions. So far pipeline flows have continued uninterrupted.

The payments were seen as a sign of business as usual in the KRG, which exported over the past three years 500,000-600,000 barrels of oil per day via the pipeline independently from the central government in Baghdad.

Baghdad said this week it wanted to reopen an old pipeline from the Kirkuk oilfields to Ceyhan to ship more crude belonging to the central government in yet another attempt to punish Kurdistan for holding the independence referendum.

Oil trading sources and analysts said the reopening of the old Iraqi pipeline was difficult and would not be able to replace existing Kurdish flows, especially given that some parts of the old pipeline were under the control of the KRG.

"The feasibility of this undertaking remains in question as certain sections of the pipeline have come under de-facto Kurdish control since the expulsion of ISIS militants from the area," Vienna-based consultancy JBC Energy said in a note.

"Consequently, even if repairs were to be conducted quickly and successfully, the quantity of crude that could flow via the repaired pipeline may still be limited," JBC added. - Reuters