Iraq's Kurdistan sees no major oil output cuts as part of OPEC deal

LONDON (Reuters) - Iraq’s semi-autonomous region of Kurdistan sees no major impact on its crude oil production from OPEC’s output cuts, agreed last week, it said on Monday, adding it was ready to cooperate with Baghdad.

Iraqi Kurdish Minister for Natural Resources Ashti Hawrami speaks during a news conference in Arbil, about 350 km (217 miles) north of Baghdad February 7, 2013. REUTERS/Azad Lashkari

The region’s natural resources minister Ashti Hawrami told a conference in London he had yet to hear from Baghdad the exact proposals on output reduction.

“We don’t envisage much impact on the KRG (Kurdistan Regional Government),” Hawrami told CWC’s Kurdistan-Iraq Oil and Gas conference in London.

Iraq agreed to reduce output by around 200,000 barrels per day as part of a broader deal last week for the group to curtail production in the first deal in tandem with non-OPEC since 2001.

Hawrami also said Erbil’s cooperation with Baghdad had greatly improved over the past year but added that there was still no resolution of budget transfers from the central government to Kurdistan for 2017.

He also said Kurdistan would launch tenders for the exploration of 20 oil and gas blocks on its territory in early 2017.

“We have redrawn all blocks’ boundaries due to recent relinquishment... Most have seismic data already,” Hawrami said at the conference.

To attract the next wave of investment in the region, timely payments and a clear mechanism for fully recovering debts were key issues that Erbil needed to address, Murat Ozgul, chief executive of Genel Energy, one of the KRG’s top producers, told the conference.

Norway’s DNO said it was owed more than $1 billion in production arrears.

Hawrami urged patience over late payments.

“Be patient with us, we thank you for that. But there’s no point in public complaints at every opportunity about our non-performance,” Hawrami said.

“If Kurdistan is really not such a good place where [production costs] $2 a barrel, take your money elsewhere. I have no problem with that. I’m sure you can find opportunities elsewhere,” Hawrami said.

The KRG’s Deputy Prime Minister Qubad Talabani said the government had already implemented urgent austerity measures that included cutting fuel subsidies and reducing civil servant salaries that should help with repaying debts next year.

Reporting by Dmitry Zhdannikov, Ahmad Ghaddar, Julia Payne, Editing by Jane Merriman and David Evans