Uncertainty deepens after landmark ruling against Kurdistan’s oil sector

Baghdad and Erbil have vastly different strategies for responding to a ruling from Iraq's highest court that invalidated the legal foundations of Kurdistan's oil sector.
KRG Prime Minister Masrur Barzani (center) meets with members of the U.S.-Kurdistan Business Council, including several representatives of international oil companies, in Erbil in March 2022. (Photo credit: KRG Prime Minister's Office)

BAGHDAD/ERBIL - Both sides have acknowledged a need for renewed dialogue, but they appear to be envisioning vastly different negotiations. Baghdad is seeking Erbil's cooperation in implementing the Federal Supreme Court's decision, while Kurdish leaders are preparing for political negotiations aiming to work around the court ruling to preserve Kurdistan's oil sector independence.

Ihsan Ismaael, federal Oil Minister and president of the newly-reconstituted Iraqi National Oil Company (INOC), has created a committee of senior industry officials, headed by Deputy Oil Minister Hamid Younis Salih “to execute the [FSC] ruling,” according to a Feb. 26 order seen by Iraq Oil Report, which was confirmed as authentic by an Oil Ministry official.

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