Shahristani’s bloc accuses Kurdistan Region of smuggling oil in “collusion” with Exxon Mobil

ERBIL, July 11 (AKnews) – An MP from the Muataqillon (Independents) bloc led by Iraq’s Deputy Prime Minister for Energy Affairs Hussein al-Shahristani has accused the Kurdistan Region of smuggling oil to neighboring countries in “collusion” with US giant Exxon Mobil.
Shahristani is one of the most prominent opponents of the oil policy of the Kurdistan Region and his bloc allied with the coalition led by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.
The government in Baghdad objected against the agreement signed with the Kurdistan Region on October 18 to explore oil and gas in six areas in the region
Samira al-Moussawi said in a statement: “The Kurdistan region, in cooperation with Exxon Mobil, is smuggling oil to foreign countries including Turkey and Iran without agreement with the government, and this is an encroachment on the constitution and the laws.”
Head of the Kurdistan Region, Massoud Barzani, asked the federal government and the Council of Representatives last month to form a joint investigative committee to investigate the allegations about oil smuggling.
The federal government, represented by Shahristani, accepted the proposal but the committee has yet to be formed. Moussawi warned the countries “collaborating” with the Kurdistan Region against what he called “playing with Iraq’s oil policies”, adding that the people reject this “as according to the constitution the oil belongs to the people and it decides about the export of oil and the agreement with the concerned authorities.” Mussawi called on the Kurdistan Region to “stop the smuggling of oil and stop the work of Exxon Mobil which violates the law because the people now feel that the company began implementing a plan to disrupt and divide the country.”
While the Kurdish Blocs Coalition (KBC) confirmed that the federal government is not serious about detecting the allegations of oil smuggling, indicating that the failure to form a committee in this regard shows that the accusations are not true.
Coalition member Saied Khoshnaw Rassoul said: “Those who accuse the region of smuggling oil must provide evidence that proves their allegations.
“The Kurdistan Region’s President Massoud Barzani demanded to form a joint committee between the region and the federal government to investigate this issue. They did not agree on the formation of this committee, and this indicates that the smuggling of oil is done through the southern borders and they are afraid of the formation of the committee.”
The Kurdistan Region has oil reserves estimated at 45 billion barrels and in 2003 the Kurdistan Regional Government began presenting the oil fields for foreign investment. Baghdad says the region’s oil contracts with foreign companies are illegal.