By Haydar Hadi
The Iraqi government asked BP to develop oil fields in Kirkuk in northern Iraq which came under the central government's control on Tuesday, a statement from Iraq's oil ministry said on Wednesday.
On Monday, government forces captured disputed areas held by the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) and Kurdish Peshmerga forces including the oil-rich Kirkuk city, an area which had long been the subject of dispute between Baghdad and the Erbil-based KRG.
“The ministry now holds also oil wells and facilities in Kirkuk,” Iraqi oil ministry spokesperson Asim Cihad said on Tuesday.
The ministry called on BP to urgently make the necessary plans for developing Kirkuk oil fields, adding that the central government has the right to develop oil fields in all cities of Iraq.
The KRG, led by President Masoud Barzani, has enjoyed close ties with Ankara and has used a pipeline stretching from northern Iraq to the Turkish Mediterranean port of Ceyhan to export oil, a mainstay of the KRG economy.
However, the illegitimate independence referendum on Sept. 25 -- held in KRG-controlled areas across northern Iraq, including those disputed with the central government in Baghdad -- has threatened this relationship.
The KRG's net income from exports through the Ceyhan port amounted to almost $416 million in October 2016, according to the KRG's Ministry of Natural Resources Monthly Export and Production Report in 2016 - the ministry's latest monthly oil report released.
The report stated that the KRG exported 19 million barrels of crude oil in total and an average of nearly 614,000 barrels of oil per day in the month of October last year through the port of Ceyhan in Turkey.