The autonomous Iraqi region of Kurdistan has not been informed of plans by the central government that Iraq and Iran agreed to study the potential construction of a pipeline that would export crude oil from fields in Kirkuk via Iran, a senior Kurdish lawmaker told London-based Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat on Tuesday, adding that the Iraq-Iran project was violating U.S. sanctions on Iran.
Over the weekend, Iran’s Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh said that Iraq and Iran had reached an agreement to commission a feasibility study of a crude oil pipeline that would export oil from fields in Kirkuk via Iran.
“In order to raise more legal problems in Kirkuk, Baghdad and Tehran have been trying for a long time to work on a pipeline to transport crude oil from the province to the Iranian territories,” Dilshad Shaaban, deputy chairman of the Kurdistan Parliament’s natural resources committee, told Asharq Al-Awsat.
“Will Kirkuk remain part of the Iraqi territory until the completion of the implementation of the project?” Shaaban noted.
In early June, President Masoud Barzani scheduled Kurdistan’s long-awaited independence referendum for September 25, in a vote that may cost Iraq a large chunk of its oil reserves.
The region of Kurdistan is made up of three provinces that are run by an autonomous government. Perhaps the most sensitive point geographically is the city and region of Kirkuk: control over it is still disputed with the central government in Baghdad, not least because the area contains some of the biggest oil fields in the country.
The oil fields in Kirkuk are divided into two blocs—the Havana and Bay Hassan fields controlled by the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), and another bloc comprising three fields under the control of the central government’s North Oil Company, Shaaban told Asharq Al-Awsat.
If Baghdad actually builds the oil pipeline with Iran, Havana and Bay Hassan fields would not be part of the deal, according to the Kurdish lawmaker, who noted that the pipeline plan is part of Baghdad and Tehran’s attempts to derail the independence referendum process.