INTERVIEW-With new grip on oil fields, Iraq Kurds unveil plan to ramp up exports

Wed Jun 25, 2014 11:09pm GMT

* Kurds say still want to work with Baghdad, share oil profits

* Kurds see 1 million bpd in oil exports by end 2015

* Kirkuk oil included in future exports through Kurdish pipeline (Add minister comment in paragraph 11, details in paragraph 13)

By David Sheppard

ARBIL, Iraq, June 25 (Reuters) - Iraq's self-ruling Kurds outlined plans on Wednesday to swiftly ramp up oil exports now that their forces have taken control of Iraq's main northern oilfields, a move that could tear up the settlement holding Iraq together since the fall of Saddam Hussein.

Kurdish Natural Resources Minister Ashti Hawrami told Reuters the Kurds had plans to increase their exports eightfold by the end of 2015, including by pumping oil from the fields taken by Kurdish fighters two weeks ago.

"We expect to be able to export 1 million bpd by the end of next year, including crude from Kirkuk," he said, although he insisted the Kurds would share the proceeds with Baghdad.

"We want to work with Baghdad under the constitution, and they will get their share of the oil they export from Kirkuk."

The central government in Iraq firmly opposes Kurdish oil sales, saying they violate the constitution. Increasing exports to such levels would radically alter the balance of power in Iraq, potentially requiring the central government to seek payment from the Kurds for some revenue, rather than the other way around.   Continued...

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