News / Middle East

Seizure of Oilfields Fuels Kurd Statehood Dream

Seizure Of Oilfields Fuels Kurd Dreams Of Statehoodi
Henry Ridgwell
July 16, 2014 12:17 AM
Last week's seizure of two large oil fields in Kirkuk by Kurdish fighters from northern Iraq will help their largely autonomous region achieve energy self-sufficiency, and is being viewed as another step by Kurdistan's regional government toward independence. The oil facilities had been abandoned by Iraqi forces, who retreated under an advance by militants of the Islamic State. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Henry Ridgwell

Along the desert horizon around Kirkuk, the bright flares from oil wells puncture the summer haze.

An estimated 4 percent of known global oil reserves lie beneath these sands.  It is a prize that Iraq’s Kurds, and its other ethnic and tribal groups, have long sought to control.

The Kurds’ opportunity came Friday, when their Peshmerga fighters seized the Kirkuk and Bai Hassan oil fields.

The Kurdistan Regional Government’s Minister for Natural Resources says the Kurds will be self-sufficient by the end of the year.

“We will be free with our own revenue as opposed to being under the thumb of dictators in Baghdad,” said Ashti Hawrami.

Baghdad insists all oil revenue should be channeled through the central government. This year it withheld part of the state budget after the Kurds began exporting oil via Turkey.

But with new oil fields under their control, the Kurdistan Regional Government or KRG has plans to expand production.

“There are plans for a larger refinery in Dohuk and a couple of smaller ones, an expansion of another one in Bazian, and those are actually, the Bazian (refinery) is under construction along with a couple of others for, let us say, lighter oil or condensate oil,” Hawrami said.

The problem will be finding the right buyers, says energy consultant Valérie Marcel of policy group Chatham House.

“Taking Kirkuk or KRG’s own exports, then the difficulty is more one of sovereignty, disputed oil," Marcel said. "So then really the problem is that likely potential buyers will not buy because they would be excluded from Iraq export sales in the future. So it would be too risky for them, for the classic purchasers.”

A new pipeline linking Kirkuk to Kurdistan’s own network and on to Turkey opened in May. The KRG says it hopes to export 400,000 barrels of oil per day by 2015, a potential game changer.

“The opening of the pipeline from Kurdistan to Turkey is really groundbreaking because it really does enable Kurdistan to turn away from Baghdad, to turn away from the Middle East proper, and towards Turkey and Europe," Marcel said. "And that opens all sorts of doors.”

In his modest house in Erbil, Omar Hassan Mawlood, 62, a former Peshmerga fighter, watches the historic events unfold on television.  he Kurds have long claimed Kirkuk is part of their ancestral homeland, and like many Kurds, Mawlood is ready to fight for it.

"In 1991, when the Iraqi army came from here to invade Kirkuk, I was there,” he said, adding that he is ready again to sacrifice himself, his blood, and his family if the Peshmerga needs him.

Amid the turmoil in Iraq, the Kurds sense an opportunity.  Its rulers see the oil fields of Kirkuk as the economic foundation of a future Kurdish state.  

You May Like

800-Pound Man Determined to Slim Down

Man says he was kicked out of hospital for ordering pizza; wants to be an actor More

Australia Prepares to Resettle 12,000 Syrian Refugees

Preference will be given to refugees from persecuted minorities, and the first group is expected to arrive before late December More

S. African Miners Seek Class Action Suit Against Gold Mines

The estimated 100,000 say say they contracted the lung diseases silicosis and tuberculosis in the mines More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
by: Azad Dewani from: United Kingdom
July 16, 2014 10:39 AM
More than 90 years of exploiting Kerkuk oil by the Iraqi governments in the corrupt purchases of armament used usually against Iraqis. In particular used against the Kurds of Kerkuk and surrounding area of Kurdistan which picked during Al-Anfal genocide campaign. It is time for Kurds to use this oil for building the life of Kurdistan peoples. It is time for prosperity and development. Exporting the Kurdish oil through Turkey is an advanced step for two reasons: 1. It bypasses the Jihadi unstable route of Perisan Gulf. 2. It limits the huge revenue of oil which the Iraqi central government might use again in building another dictatorship and more weapons.

by: meanbill from: USA
July 15, 2014 9:59 PM
DREAMS? ... The Kurdish dreams are just dreams, because Maliki will defeat the al-Baghdadi (ISIL) army, and form a new Iraq government, with or without the Kurds, and Maliki won't stand for anybody stealing Iraq oil, even if the US tries to defend them.... The Iraqi's won't fear anybody after they defeat the al-Baghdadi (ISIL) army..... and they fought the US before, didn't they?

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Amnesty Accuses Saudi Coalition of ‘War Crimes’ in Yemeni
Henry Ridgwell
October 12, 2015 4:03 PM
The human rights group Amnesty International has accused the Saudi-led coalition of war crimes in airstrikes against Houthi rebels in Yemen. Henry Ridgwell reports the group says hundreds of civilians have been killed in strikes on residential areas.

Video Amnesty Accuses Saudi Coalition of ‘War Crimes’ in Yemen

The human rights group Amnesty International has accused the Saudi-led coalition of war crimes in airstrikes against Houthi rebels in Yemen. Henry Ridgwell reports the group says hundreds of civilians have been killed in strikes on residential areas.

Video No Resolution in Sight to US House Speaker Drama

Uncertainty grips the U.S. Congress, where no consensus replacement has emerged to succeed Republican House Speaker John Boehner after his surprise resignation announcement. Half of Congress is effectively leaderless weeks before America risks defaulting on its national debt and enduring another partial government shutdown.

Video New Art Exhibit Focuses on Hope

Out of struggle and despair often comes hope. That idea is behind a new art exhibit at the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore, Maryland. "The Big Hope Show" features 25 artists, some of whom overcame trauma and loss. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

Video Columbus Day Still Generates Controversy as US Holiday

The second Monday of October is Columbus Day in the United States, honoring explorer Christopher Columbus and his discovery of the Americas. The achievement is a source of pride for many, but for some the holiday is marked by controversy. Adrianna Zhang has more.

Video Anger Simmers as Turks Begin to Bury Blast Victims

The Turkish army carried out new air strikes on Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) targets on Sunday, a day after the banned group announced a unilateral cease fire. The air raids apparently are in retaliation for the Saturday bombing in Turkey's capital Ankara that killed at least 95 people and wounded more than 200 others. But as Zlatica Hoke reports, there are suspicions that Islamic State is involved.

Video Bombings a Sign of Turkey’s Deep Troubles

Turkey has begun a three-day period of mourning following Saturday’s bomb attacks in the capital, Ankara, that killed nearly 100 people. With contentious parliamentary elections three weeks away, the attacks highlight the challenges Turkey is facing as it struggles with ethnic friction, an ongoing migrant crisis, and growing tensions with Russia. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video Afghanistan’s Progress Aided by US Academic Center

Recent combat in Afghanistan has shifted world attention back to the central Asian nation’s continuing civil war and economic challenges. But, while there are many vexing problems facing Afghanistan’s government and people, a group of academics in Omaha, Nebraska has kept a strong faith in the nation’s future through programs to improve education. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Omaha, Nebraska.

Video House Republicans in Chaos as Speaker Favorite Withdraws

The Republican widely expected to become the next speaker of the House of Representatives shocked his colleagues Thursday by announcing he was withdrawing his candidacy. The decision by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy means the race to succeed retiring Speaker John Boehner is now wide open. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Video German, US Officials Investigate Volkswagen

German officials have taken steps to restore some of the reputation their car industry has lost after a recent Volkswagen diesel emissions scandal. Authorities have searched Volkswagen headquarters and other locations in an effort to identify the culprits in the creation of software that helps cheat on emission tests. Meanwhile, a group of lawmakers in Washington held a hearing to get to the bottom of the cheating strategy that was first discovered in the United States. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Why Are Gun Laws So Hard for Congress to Tackle?

Since taking office, President Barack Obama has spoken out or issued statements about 15 mass shootings. The most recent shooting, in which 10 people were killed at a community college, sparked outrage over the nation's gun laws. But changing those laws isn't as easy as many think. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.

Video In 'He Named Me Malala,' Guggenheim Finds Normal in Extraordinary

Davis Guggenheim’s documentary "He Named Me Malala" offers a probing look into the life of 18-year-old Malala Yousafsai, the Pakistani teenager who, in 2012, was shot in the head by the Taliban for standing up for her right to education in her hometown in Pakistan's Swat Valley. Guggenheim shows how, since then, Malala has become a symbol not as a victim of brutal violence, but as an advocate for girls’ education throughout the world. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.

Video Paintable Solar Cells May Someday Replace Silicon-Based Panels

Solar panels today are still factory-manufactured, with the use of some highly toxic substances such as cadmium chloride. But a researcher at St. Mary’s College, Maryland, says we are close to being able to create solar panels by painting them on a suitable surface, using nontoxic solutions. VOA’s George Putic reports.

VOA Blogs