Live: Export talks heat up as Iraqi oil minister meets Kurdistan Region president

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And here is PM Mark Rutte's version of the phone call
Read out of phone call between Iraqi PM and his Dutch counterpart:

Prime Minister Mohammed S. Al-Sudani, received a phone call from the Prime Minister of the Netherlands Mr. Mark Rutte, discussing the unfolding events in the Gaza Strip.

During the call, the Prime Minister highlighted that the events in Gaza amount to crimes against humanity, genocide, and a blatant violation of international agreements and laws that began to lose their significance in light of the daily tragedies and mounting victims. The tragic toll of victims, mainly defenseless civilians and half of them children, underscores the severity of the situation, compounded by forced displacement perpetrated by the Zionist occupation authorities.

His Excellency emphasized that the international community and major powers bear a moral and legal responsibility to halt the war. He urged the establishment of humanitarian corridors to provide water, food, and medicine to besieged civilians. The Prime Minister stated that Iraq is actively working to prevent the conflict's escalation and is committed to protecting diplomatic missions and advisors within Iraqi bases.

The Prime Minister of the Netherlands condemned the killing of Palestinian civilians and emphasized the imperative need to open humanitarian corridors for the delivery of essential materials to the people in Gaza. He commended Iraq's efforts in maintaining stability and expressed a desire to collaborate with the Iraqi government for regional and global peace. He highlighted alignment between their countries' positions regarding the conflict in Gaza.

In today’s meeting between energy officials from Baghdad and Erbil, Kurdistan 24 reported that the discussions were positive. The website said that the KRG delegation and International Oil Companies (IOCs) representatives advocated for increased costs in production, transportation, and oil expenditures in the Kurdistan Region. 

Meanwhile, the Baghdad delegation presented their proposals.
The Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) is expected to publicly disclose the details of these proposals and the outcomes of their meetings with the Iraqi Ministry of Oil in the coming days. An unnamed source was cited by the website, revealing that the KRG has requested $22 to $24 per barrel as the cost for production and transportation of oil.

The Baghdad representatives have long insisted that these costs should align with the Federal Ministry of Oil's average cost for producing and transporting oil barrels. This stance reportedly has not been well-received by the IOCs, due to the differing contract types in the rest of Iraq compared to those in the KRI). Factors like geological challenges, security, and political risks also contribute to higher costs for IOCs operating in the KRI.

Despite previous delays, the current intensity of the talks indicates that a breakthrough may be imminent. 

Iraqi Oil Minister Hayan Abdel-Ghani, during a Sunday visit to Erbil, expressed optimism about reaching an agreement with the KRG and IOCs on resuming oil production from the region within three days. He also mentioned an 'understanding' with Turkey regarding the resumption of northern oil exports through the Iraq-Turkey pipeline.
Human Rights NGO Hengaw reports that within a span of less than two months, at least three kolbars (smugglers) have been killed and 28 others injured by Iranian armed forces in the city of Bana, located on the border with the Iraqi Kurdistan Region. 
For many local Kurds, smuggling goods through the hazardous mountainous routes along the Iraqi-Iranian border is a means of livelihood. These individuals often risk their lives in this endeavor. 

Annually, dozens of kolbars are killed and numerous others injured, frequently coming under fire from Iranian forces.

No breakthrough yet

Kurdistan 24, a news outlet affiliated with the KDP, reported that Iraqi and Kurdish energy officials are continuing discussions on resuming oil exports through the Iraq-Turkey pipeline during their second day of meetings in Erbil on Monday.

The Iraqi delegation, led by Deputy Prime Minister and Federal Oil Minister Hayan Abdul Ghani, arrived in Erbil on Sunday. They met with Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) Prime Minister Masrour Barzani and Kemal Muhammed, acting Minister of Natural Resources for the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI).

Following the meeting, Barzani stated that the KRG is prepared to resume oil exports, emphasizing the need for a mutual understanding of the technical and financial aspects of the process. He also highlighted the importance of adhering to the constitution and existing agreements to safeguard the rights of all involved parties and to address the interests of the Kurdistan Region in oil production and transportation cost recovery.


A second round of meetings between KRG energy ministry officials and visiting counterparts from Baghdad is underway in Erbil


Another warm welcome for the return of Cameron

This time from KRG Deputy PM Qubad Talabani 

State of Law Coalition dismisses Sadr's call for election boycott

The State of Law Coalition, led by former Premier Nouri Al-Maliki, on Monday dismissed Muqtada Al-Sadr's call for a boycott of the upcoming provincial council elections. The coalition described the Sadrist movement leader's appeal as 'useless.'

Saad Al-Muttalabi, the coalition's leader, said the movement does not represent the entire Shiite community. In a statement to Shafaq News Agency, Muttalabi noted, 'Part of the Shiite component will boycott the governorate council elections, while the rest will participate. A partial boycott by any component does not affect the elections' legitimacy, either internationally or internally.'

Iraq's provincial elections, the first in over a decade, are set for December. Sadr, who led the winning faction in the last parliamentary elections and is popular among Iraqi Shiites, has urged his supporters to abstain. 'Your participation with the corrupt saddens me... Your boycott... makes me happy and angers hostility... It reduces the elections' legitimacy and the dominance of the corrupt over Iraq,' Sadr said.

Muttalabi clarified that the Shiite community would participate in the elections as both candidates and voters, maintaining legitimacy. 'The Iraqi constitution affirmed there is no participation percentage required to determine elections' legitimacy. Any percentage, even if small, is considered constitutional and legitimate,' Al-Muttalabi added, emphasizing the right to participate or boycott.

شفق نيوز/ رد ائتلاف دولة القانون بزعامة نوري المالكي، يوم الاثنين، على دعوة زعيم التيار الصدري مقتدى الصدر لأنصاره بمقاطعة انتخابات مجالس المحافظات من أجل تقليل شرعيتها دوليا وداخليا، وعدّها دعوة "غير
شفق نيوز

President Barzani's office has released the readout from the meeting with the Iraqi oil minister  

President Nechirvan Barzani received Deputy Prime Minister for Energy Affairs and Iraqi Oil Minister Hayyan Abdul Ghani, along with a high-level delegation accompanying him.

In a meeting attended by two Iraqi Deputy Ministers of Oil and the Acting Minister of Natural Resources of the Kurdistan Regional Government, the latest steps and procedures for resuming oil exports from the Kurdistan Region were discussed, as well as the ongoing discussions between the relevant parties of the Iraqi Federal Government and the Kurdistan Regional Government in this matter.

President Nechirvan Barzani reiterated his support for the dialogue and steps taken by the federal government and the Kurdistan Regional Government to resolve issues and resume oil exports from the Kurdistan Region. He also indicated that the halt in the Kurdistan Region's oil exports has caused a significant loss to Iraq's general revenue and emphasized the importance and necessity of resuming these exports as soon as possible.

For his part, the Iraqi Oil Minister stressed the Iraqi Federal Government's and Prime Minister Al-Sudani's serious desire to resolve these issues and resume the export of oil from the Kurdistan Region. He also briefed the delegation on the purpose of his visit to the Kurdistan Region and the results of the discussions between the relevant parties of the Federal Government and the Kurdistan Regional Government in this regard.


David Cameron returns

Lots of interest in Kurdish media over the shock return of ex-PM David Cameron to the British cabinet.

He's taking over at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office from James Cleverly, who's being shifted over to the Home Office.

David Cameron was PM when the British government was in close coordination with the Kurdistan Region's security and military forces in the fight against Islamic State.

Current KRG PM Masrour Barzani has congratulated him on the appointment. The rare "-mb" indicates it's a personal tweet and not merely a canned response drafted by his comms team.
The federal government wants to get into the retail game
It plans to reopen dormant state-owned shopping centres and supermarkets. Presumably, they'll be loss leaders and subsidized. 

+964 cites the Minister for Trade spox Muthanna Jabbar as saying:

"Hundreds of food convoys have been dispatched to different districts, with the opening of seven outlets — three in Baghdad and four in other governorates. These outlets will sell goods at competitive and subsidized prices to achieve price stability in the markets.”

The Iraqi parliament will debate amendments to the law governing the federal electoral commission

The commission's mandate is due to expire soon and has to be renewed. The expiration may have implications for the upcoming Kurdistan Region parliamentary elections which are slated for February. They're being administered by the federal commission as the Kurdistan Region's own electoral body has no mandate following the supreme court's decision to dissolve the Kurdistan Region's parliament and nullify any laws passed since the expiration of its original mandate.

Though there are fears the election could be delayed again due to political disagreements and technical issues like the looming expiration of the federal commission's mandate. 

Kurdish candidates in some disputed territories are having election posters vandalized 

Here, a KDP candidate for Kirkuk provincial council, Hemin Moafiq, is seen repairing his own posters after they were defaced. He says Kurdish candidates are having their posters stolen, removed, destroyed, or defaced with profanities. 

A candidate for the PUK-led coalition in the city concurs.  

With the current production-sharing contracts, APIKUR members can sell oil produced in the Kurdistan Region to Baghdad through SOMO. In Dubai, we informed [Iraqi] Ministry of Oil officials and SOMO that we’re willing to sell oil to federal Iraq so that oil can then be exported to global energy markets.

Myles B. Caggins III. to Kurdistan 24

Myles B. Caggins III said that, in all, stakeholders including the KRG, federal government, and Apikur members have lost $7b since oil exports were shuttered.
Apikur is an association of international oil companies operating in the Kurdistan Region. It helps IOCs coordinate efforts and has intervened multiple times now on behalf of members demanding back payments for debts owed by the KRG.
APIKUR’s objective is to promote the KRI as an attractive destination for international oil and gas companies, service providers and investors

Spokesperson for Apikur: We will refuse to export oil without written guarantees for future and past payments

Myles B. Caggins III, spox for the Association of the Petroleum Industry of Kurdistan (Apikur), has told Kurdistan 24 that member companies are owed $1b by the KRG and that they will refuse to export any more oil without written guarantees about how and when past and future payments will be made and debts settled.
The sticking point, again, appears to be Kurdistan's contracts with international oil companies operating in the Kurdistan Region. These contracts were signed with the KRG in spite of protestations by Baghdad that the contracts were illegal.
Baghdad says the terms of these contracts are slanted in the favor of IOCs and refuses to pay the fees as set in them. 
Last night, the KDP's federal Minister Construction and Housing and Municipalities and Public works (what a mouthful) Bangen Rekani told Rudaw in a TV interview that:

"If there is a will, there is nothing unresolvable. The issue is related to the oil producing companies in the Kurdistan Region."

Today, Iraqi Oil Minister Hayan Abdul Ghani is meeting Kurdistan Region President Nechirvan Barzani, who was PM when the KRG orchestrated its independent energy exports policy.