Turkey halts Iraq’s northern exports after landmark arbitration ruling

Baghdad's legal victory appears to be altering the balance of power that has enabled Kurdistan's oil sector independence.
Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani (center right) is received by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (center) in Ankara on March 21, 2023. (Photo credit: Iraqi Prime Minister's Office)

Iraq's northern oil exports were shut down Saturday after an international court of arbitration ruled that Turkey has violated a bilateral treaty by facilitating independent pipeline flows from the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG).

The long-expected ruling deals a potentially fatal blow to the KRG's quest for autonomous control of its oil sector and raises urgent questions about how oil companies in Kurdistan will be able to continue producing and selling the roughly 400,000 barrels per day (bpd) of crude they had been pumping to Turkey. The pipeline shutdown also closes off federal Iraqi exports through the KRG-controlled pipeline that had been averaging about 75,000 bpd in the past year.

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