Progress in Baghdad-Erbil talks over northern export restart

Under a provisional compromise deal, SOMO would take over selling crude and KRG would keep control of its oil revenue.
Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani (center right) meets with KRG President Nechirvan Barzani (center left) and Foreign Minister Fuad Hussein (second from right) on Nov. 22, 2022 in Baghdad. (Photo credit: Prime Minister's Office)

SULAIMANIYA - Leaders in Baghdad and Erbil have reached a provisional framework agreement that could lead to the restart of northern oil exports via Turkey, one week after they were taken offline in the aftermath of a landmark arbitration ruling.

According to a senior Iraqi official, whose account was corroborated by multiple people briefed on the talks, the two sides have agreed to a compromise arrangement: the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) will control its oil revenue, but the federal government's marketing company, SOMO, will sell the oil produced by the KRG.

"This agreement consisted of five points, and there will be some technical and follow-up meetings until oil exports resume," the senior Iraqi official said on Saturday. "All the steps must be taken within 72 hours."

The two sides have significant incentives to compromise: the KRG now needs Baghdad's authorization to export oil via Turkey, while Baghdad needs the KRG pipeline for its own northern exports. But it is unclear whether they have agreed on key details, making it uncertain whether or how quickly the fledgling deal will actually move toward implementation.

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