The resumption of oil exports from Iraq’s northern city of Kirkuk to Turkey's Ceyhan seaport on the Mediterranean coast is viewed as a 'positive gesture' for Erbil-Baghdad relations, according to the head of the Erbil-based Kurdish Regional Government (KRG), Nechirvan Barzani.
Barzani's remarks came during an event in Erbil on Monday organized for the 10th anniversary of works of the Emirati company Dana Gas in the region, where he expressed his support for the new Iraqi government.
On Friday, Iraq's federal government and the KRG reached a tentative agreement to resume oil exports from Iraq’s northern city of Kirkuk to Turkey's Ceyhan seaport on the Mediterranean coast after oil extraction was halted last October.
In a statement, the Iraqi Oil Ministry spokesman Assem Jihad said the deal called for the resumption of exports at a rate of between 50,000 and 100,000 barrels per day, although he did not confirm exactly when the deal would go into effect.
'We hope the new government [in Iraq] will be able to resolve the issues between Baghdad and Erbil, and we can together step forward for a brighter future,' he said.
On Oct. 24, the new Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi, who was appointed to form the government as a result of the parliamentary elections held on May 12, was officially sworn -- along with 14 members of his cabinet -- after winning a parliamentary vote of confidence.
Barzani also called on companies working in the energy sector to avail of the incentives for oil and gas field investments in the region.
The Washington administration sees Kirkuk oil as an alternative to replace the shortage from Iran's exports that have been hit with the second phase of sanctions on Nov. 5. Iran's oil exports are projected to fall by 1 million barrels.
Relations between the Iraqi government and the KRG have remained strained since September 2017, when the latter held an unconstitutional referendum on Kurdish regional independence.
Baghdad responded to the illegitimate poll by imposing a broad range of sanctions on the Erbil-based KRG.
In the wake of last year’s referendum, federal forces also seized control of all parts of Iraq 'disputed' between Baghdad and Erbil, including the oil-rich Kirkuk province.
Oil extraction and pumping from Iraq's northern Kirkuk province was suspended in October 2017.
Reporting by Mazin Majeed Asaad Baqal in Erbil
Writing and additional reporting by Firdevs Yuksel