PUK forces storm oil facility to protest Baghdad’s negligence of Kirkuk

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Kirkuk oil fields, File photo

ARA News 

Crude flows from Iraq’s northern Kirkuk fields resumed on Thursday after few hours of disruption, when the Heza Rashaka, also known as Task Force Black, took over the facility of the Iraqi North Oil Company (NOC) in Kirkuk to protest Baghdad’s oil policy.

“The PUK [Patriotic Union of Kurdistan] has controlled Kirkuk since 2003 and when the Iraqi Army abandoned their position near Kirkuk oil fields in 2014, the MNR [Kurdistan Region’s Ministry of Natural Sources] which is controlled by the KDP [Kurdistan Democratic Party] took over the majority of the oil fields in Kirkuk and since then the KDP has been in the driving seat,” Shwan Zulal, Associated fellow at the European Centre for Energy and Resource Security (EUCERS) told ARA News.

The PUK and Kirkuk’s governor Najmiddin Karim were angered by a deal between Baghdad and Erbil in August last year on the export of oil in Kirkuk, currently administrated jointly by the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and Iraq’s own North Oil Company (NOC).

“Since last year, when Baghdad and Erbil agreed to share export, PUK and Kirkuk governorate felt sidelined and complained but did not follow on threats,” Zulal said.

The PUK said they would not withdraw their forces unless Baghdad stops sending oil to other provinces.

“However, since reduction part of OPEC cuts to Kirkuk, Kirkuk governorate –controlled by the PUK– wants to make sure the revenues and the benefit of the 40,000 cuts is for the city and not Baghdad or Erbil,” he told ARA News.

Yousif Ismail, the director of the Washington Kurdish Institute and the former chief of staff of the Governor of Kirkuk, said: “Baghdad has never delivered its promises to Kirkuk’s people.”

“It’s way over due for the return of Kirkuk’s wealth to its people: Kurds, Arabs, Turkmen, and Christians,” he said on Twitter.

Reporting by: Wladimir van Wilgenburg | Source: ARA News

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