Iraq warns Kurdistan not to shut down Kirkuk oil flows

Members of Iraqi federal forces gather near oil fields in Kirkuk, Iraq October 16, 2017. REUTERS/Stringer

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Iraq said on Monday it was considering using security forces to prevent Kurdistan from shutting down output from the oil area of Kirkuk after tensions flared up between the central government and the semi-autonomous region.

“The oil ministry warned the Kurdish authorities not to attempt any action that would cause crude oil flow disruption from Kirkuk oilfield,” a spokesman for North Oil Company told Reuters.

“We received signals from them (Kurdish officials) that they will shut down production operations in Kirkuk oilfield for security reasons but we understand that this is only a pretext to put pressure on Baghdad,” the spokesman said.

“This won’t work and all options are on the table to continue output flowing. We are coordinating with the central government and oil ministry to ask security forces to intervene and prevent Kurdish crews from mismanaging production operations at the Kirkuk oilfield,” the spokesman said.

The Kirkuk oil area produces around 200,000 barrels per day (bpd) out of total Kurdish production of over 600,000 bpd.

Reporting by Ahmed Rasheed; writing by Dmitry Zhdannikov; editing by Jason Neely