Iraq says can sue over illegal oil exports

January 11, 2013 - 5:53:33 am

BAGHDAD: Iraq has the right to take legal action against oil companies exporting crude without dealing with the central government, including confiscating cargoes and suing sellers, buyers and transporters, the state-run SOMO oil company said yesterday.

A SOMO statement made no reference to any company, but it was released after Genel Energy said Iraq’s autonomous Kurdistan region had given permission for the company to deliver some crude directly by truck to Turkey. 

Baghdad says only the central government has authority to export crude and sign oil deals. But Kurdistan says the constitution allows it to agree to contracts. It has signed with oil majors such as ExxonMobil, angering Iraq officials who deem the Kurdish agreements unconstitutional.

“The Iraqi Ministry of Oil and SOMO, shall reserve the right to take all legal actions against any company or entity that deal with bodies other than SOMO in addition to the confiscation of cargoes smuggled across borders as well as suing sellers, purchasers and transporters,” it said.

Crude reserves are at the heart of a wider dispute over territory, oilfields and political autonomy between Baghdad and the Kurdistan enclave in the country’s north, where ethnic Kurds run their own regional government.