Baghdad to transfer oil payments to Iraq Kurds today

BAGHDAD (Reuters) – Oil payments from Baghdad to Iraq’s Kurdish region will be transferred today, Kurdish Energy Minister Ashti Hawrami said on Sunday, ending a heated tug-of-war over the issue, at least for now.

              Baghdad and Kurdistan agreed earlier this month to draw a line under a dispute over oil payments after the latter pledged to continue exports and Baghdad said it would pay foreign companies working there.

              Kurdistan has riled Baghdad by signing deals with foreign oil majors, such as Exxon and Chevron, contracts the central government rejects as illegal.

              “Payments will be transferred to the Kurdish regional government today: that’s what I’ve been told in Baghdad today,” Hawrami told reporters in the Iraqi capital.

              Hawrami was in Baghdad for a meeting also attended by Iraqi Oil Minister Abdul-Kareem Luaibi, at which they were due to discuss a long-awaited oil and gas law.

              More than nine years after the toppling of Saddam Hussein, the OPEC member still has no binding hydrocarbon law. A 2007 draft national oil law that aims to resolve the disputes over crude has been caught up in political infighting.

              The oil contracts row is part of a broader battle between the Baghdad government and Kurdistan over oil rights, territory and regional autonomy that is straining Iraq’s uneasy federal union.