Iraqi Kurdistan could produce up to 150,000 barrels per day (bpd) crude oil immediately and pump one million bpd within three years if it can work out a deal with Baghdad, its natural resources minister said yesterday.
Ashti Hawrami told Reuters Insider television negotiations between the Government of Iraq and the authorities in the semi-autonomous region were continuing over contractual obligations and ownership of the oil.
"We can start with 100,000 to 150,000 barrels [per day] right away and we can go to one million barrels within three years," Hawrami said.
"We are ready to start exports actually right away... We are ready to start 100,000 barrels per day within 24 hours notice. As soon as we basically have the nod that our proposal is okay, then we start."
Hawrami, responsible for energy in the enclave ruled by the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), was speaking on the sidelines of a conference on the Middle East and North Africa at the Chatham House think-tank in London.
He said Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Al Maliki had called the Kurdish Government and had appeared receptive to their proposals on solving the dispute over the oil.
"Dr Maliki called to acknowledge receipt of our proposal and he was welcoming and receptive and said he would get back to us," Hawrami said.
Hawrami made it clear he wanted oil exports to start straight away, while negotiations on the terms continued. "In the interest of all Iraqis, let's get oil flowing, contractors to produce a certain amount of oil and pay expenses and the issues of contracts and things we differ on can be sorted out as we go," he said.
Asked when he thought production could start, he said: "That is down to Baghdad. We are ready to start. We can export within 24 hours."
Kurdistan wanted to build a pipeline to get oil exports up to one million bpd within three years.
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