by Staff Writers
Arbil, Iraq (AFP) Aug 7, 2012
Iraq's autonomous Kurdistan region resumed oil exports on Tuesday, a top Kurdish official said, after stopping them for more than four months during a row with Baghdad.
Kurdistan halted its oil exports via the federal government on April 1 over $1.5 billion it said is owed to foreign oil companies working in the region, that Baghdad has allegedly withheld.
"We started exporting oil at noon today," Ashti Hawrami, the minister of natural resources in the Kurdistan region's government, told AFP.
Hawrami said that the exports were currently less than 100,000 barrels per day, but that they would reach that figure within the next two days.
Kurdistan announced on August 1 that it would resume exports, in a statement that quoted a natural resources ministry spokesman as saying that "exports would remain at 100,000 bpd for a month and if payments were forthcoming, they could move swiftly up to 200,000 bpd."
Hawrami said in the statement that the move was aimed at building "confidence with the federal government," and "squaring up all the oil and gas issues in Iraq."
Baghdad and Arbil are at odds over issues including Kurdistan's refusal to seek approval from the central government for oil contracts it has awarded to foreign firms, and over a swathe of disputed territory in northern Iraq.
Baghdad says all oil deals must go through the national oil ministry and regards any that do not as illegal.
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