KIRKUK, Kurdistan (Rudaw) — Kurdish forces entered North Oil Company (NOC) in Kirkuk on Thursday to show Baghdad that Kirkuk’s oil is for its people, a Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) official said.
“Deployment of troops in Kirkuk is to show Baghdad, Kirkuk’s oil is for the people of Kirkuk,” Aso Mamand, the Head of PUK’s office in Kirkuk, said at a press conference on Thursday. “We have deployed troops to prevent Baghdad from exporting Kirkuk’s oil to Mosul and Baghdad. Baghdad wants to export Kirkuk’s oil for the rest of Iraq while our people are in desperate need for it.
“There has been a plot to exploit the people of Kirkuk. What we did today was an expression of the grudge of Kirkuk people against them.”
The force has controlled a pump station where extracted oil is stored from the oilfields, and its main purpose of the station is to export it to the Ceyhan port through a pipeline, Rudaw sources reported.
“We will give Baghdad one week to retract its decision to export additional oil from Kirkuk to the rest of Iraq,” Mamand said. “If Baghdad does not meet our demands within one week, we will expel North Oil Company’s officials. The Kurdistan Regional Government also exploits the people of Kirkuk.”
Kurds halted flow of oil through Kirkuk-Ceyhan pipeline
Oil pumping from Iraq’s northern Kirkuk fields stopped on Thursday after security forces entered the North Oil Company (NOC).
Security forces were reportedly deployed in order to clean the area from explosives planted by the Islamic State (IS).
“They ordered the shutdown of the pumping station for security reasons and that caused a halt of Kirkuk oil exports to Turkey,” an executive from state-run NOC said to Reuters.
However Kurdish news outlet NRT reported that employees at the oil company were sent home from the pumping station by security forces tied to the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK).
Commenting on the development Kurdish Policy co-founder Kamal Chomani tweeted: PUK leaders in Kirkuk halted oil exportation to Turkey, saying the oil belongs to Kirkuk not the KRG or Iraq and that their demands should be met.
The head of the PUK in Kirkuk, Aso Elmmani, in a statement also confirmed that the oil exportation had been halted because the Iraqi government hadn’t implemented a deal between the sides.
150,000 barrels of oil per day normally flows from Kirkuk to Turkish port city Ceyhan on the Mediterranean. Oil exports have been halted for months on several occasions due to revenue conflicts between the Iraqi central government in Baghdad and Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) as the latter has been handling oil flows independently.
The two oldest parties within the KRG, the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and PUK, have also been at loggerheads over the share of oil revenue. The PUK has criticised the Massoud Barzani-led KDP of dominating revenue shares while both parties have accused each other of corruption.