(Adds comment from Western official, context)
By Isabel Coles
ARBIL, Iraq, March 20 Kurdistan will export
100,000 barrels of oil per day through the Iraqi pipeline
network from April 1 as a "gesture of goodwill" while
negotiations with Baghdad continue, a statement from the
region's prime minister said on Thursday.
The initiative marks a breakthrough in months of tortuous
negotiations to resolve a dispute between Kurdistan and the
Iraqi central government over exports of oil from the autonomous
Crude from Kurdistan used to flow through a
Baghdad-controlled pipeline to the Turkish port of Ceyhan, but
exports via that channel dried up in late 2012 due to a dispute
over payments for oil companies operating in the region.
Since then, the Kurds have trucked smaller quantities of oil
across the border while building a separate pipeline to Turkey
in defiance of Baghdad, which retaliated this year by cutting
the region's monthly budget allocation.
"The negotiations with Baghdad on oil export and budgetary
matters are ongoing. These negotiations have not yet resulted in
any acceptable agreements," read the statement by Prime Minister
"As a goodwill gesture the Kurdistan Regional Government
(KRG) has offered to make a contribution to Iraqi oil pipeline
exports to give the negotiations the maximum chance of success".
A Western official said the Kurds would resume feeding crude
into the Baghdad-controlled pipeline, which has repeatedly been
sabotaged over the past year and is currently since the
beginning of this month.
Meanwhile, more than one million barrels have already been
pumped through the new Kurdish pipeline into storage tanks at
Ceyhan, but the official said that oil would not be sold until
further progress was made in negotiations.
The discussions include proposals for oil revenue to be
disbursed to the Kurds automatically, as well as the formation
of a new committee to oversee exports, the official said.
For now, the oil will be exported via Iraq's State Oil
Marketing Organisation and the revenues deposited in the
Development Fund for Iraq account in New York, as before.
The official described the talks as "extremely difficult"
and said elections next month had further complicated the
picture, but that the new initiative "should help improve the
(Reporting by Isabel Coles; Editing by Mark Trevelyan and Tom