NOC suspends Kirkuk oil exports

NOC suspends Kirkuk oil exports
1 year ago

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KIRKUK — North Oil Company (NOC) suspended oil exports from Kirkuk on Friday (March 11) due to the dispute between Baghdad and Erbil.

The Head of the Energy Committee in Kirkuk’s Provincial Council, Ahmad Askari, told NRT the cessation of Kirkuk’s oil exports came from a decision by the Iraqi Oil Ministry.

The Iraqi Oil Ministry is expected to hold a meeting on Sunday (March 13) to decide whether to resume oil exports from Kirkuk or continue the suspension.

Kirkuk is believed to have close to 8.7 billion barrels, or about 30 percent of Iraq’s total oil reserves.

NOC used to operate in four of Kirkuk’s oil fields but when the Islamic State (IS) entered the area, two of its oil fields, Bay Hasan and Nan, came under the control of the Kurdistan Regional Government’s (KRG) Ministry of Natural Resources.

Since a dispute in early 2014 the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) has faced an economic crisis which saw its share of the Iraqi federal budget delayed. Erbil increased independent oil exports in an effort to make up for dwindling payments, further straining relations with the central government.

The global slump in oil prices, the fight against IS and an influx of Syrian refugees and displaced Iraqis have added more pressure on the KRG’s economy.

The KRG has struggled to pay salaries on time for public employees in the region, with some having gone up to five months without wages.

Senior KRG officials announced earlier this year they would cut government employee salaries by 15 to 75 percent, depending on position and salary bracket, as part of austerity measures to deal with the ongoing economic crisis.

Officials said the remaining salary amount would be credited and paid back to workers once the region emerges from the financial crunch.

(NRT)