UPDATE 2-Kurds warns on oil contracts, but exports seen soon

* Oil deals in disputed territories criticised

* Oil from DNO fields to be exported soon, shares jump

* Baghdad’s licensing round seen failing

(Updates DNO shares)

By Tom Bergin

LONDON, March 13 (Reuters) - The oil minister of Iraq’s autonomous Kurdish region warned foreign oil companies against signing deals with Baghdad on fields in territory the Kurds claim.

Ashti Hawrami also said Kurdistan would start exporting oil in the coming months.

Baghdad has invited international oil companies to bid for contracts on fields including some near the city of Kirkuk in northern Iraq, which the Kurds hope to incorporate into their autonomous area but which is administered by Baghdad.

Hawrami told Reuters in an interview Baghdad’s failure to consult with the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) on its licensing round meant any contracts on fields in disputed territories would be unenforceable.

“Oil companies must be crazy if they think they can go sign a contract with the ministry of oil and just get on and do the job. They can’t, they need our co-operation,” he said.

Western oil majors including Royal Dutch Shell Plc RDSa.L, Exxon Mobil Corp XOM.N and BP Plc BP.L are assessing the fields on offer with a view to making bids in the licensing round.

Baghdad and the KRG have been haggling for years over a new oil law that would govern revenue sharing.


Despite this, Hawrami expects the Kurdish region to start exporting oil via Iraq’s pipeline network in the coming months.

Norway's DNO International DNO.OL is in the final stages of connecting its Tawke field to the network but investors fear disagreements with Baghdad could delay exports indefinitely. "We don't expect any real problem there despite our differences with Baghdad," he said of DNO. "From our point of view oil will flow the day it (the pipeline) is ready."

This can happen even without agreement between the two sides on an over-arching oil law. “We should not mix the two things,” he said.

Hawrami said revenue from any sales of Kurdish oil would go to the finance ministry which should then pay DNO its share. The KRG is seeking no part of the revenue until an oil law is agreed, he said.

DNO's shares rose over 6 percent after Hawrami's comments, adding to earlier gains to close up 10.1 percent at 4.91 crowns, outperforming a 1.6 percent rise in the DJ Stoxx European oil and gas sector index .SXEP.

Hawrami also predicted the Baghdad government’s oil licensing round would be a failure.

“There is no model contract acceptable to the international oil companies,” he said. “Number two, the Ministry of Oil has no legal authority to sign contracts”.

The oil ministry hopes to award contracts in June, although most industry executives and analysts expect the timetable to slip a few months at least.

“If you’re telling me that by August they will be signing contracts -- August which year?” Hawrami said.

Addax Petroleum AXC.TO is also in the advanced stages of readying its fields for potential export of crude. (Editing by Anthony Barker and David Holmes)