ARBIL, Iraq (Reuters) - Iraq’s bid to thwart exports of oil from Kurdistan via Turkey by filing for arbitration is a “hollow threat” that will fail, the autonomous region said in a statement on Sunday.
The Iraqi Oil Ministry said on Friday it was taking legal action against Turkey and state-owned pipeline operator BOTAS after the first cargo of crude to be piped from Kurdistan was sold without Baghdad’s consent.
The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) said it was undeterred by “hollow threats” from Baghdad and accused the Iraqi Oil Ministry of flouting the country’s constitution.
“The Iraqi Oil Ministry is acting in violation of the 2005 Iraq Constitution, in violation of Iraqi law, and in violation of international law,” read the KRG statement.
“Its threats will fail.”
The Kurds say they are constitutionally entitled to develop and export the resources in their region, and late last year finished building a pipeline to Turkey in defiance of Baghdad, which claims sole authority to manage all the country’s oil.
Oil has been flowing through the new pipeline into storage tanks at the Turkish port of Ceyhan since the start of the year, and the first shipment of more than one million barrels was loaded last week and set off towards Europe.
The request for arbitration was filed with the Paris-based International Chamber of Commerce.
“The KRG assures its contractors and international partners, including transporters and traders, that it will not allow hollow threats from the Iraqi Oil Ministry to interfere with the KRG’s oil export regime,” the regional government said.
Reporting by Isabel Coles; Editing by Sophie Hares