SULAIMANI (ESTA) — The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) denied allegations late on Saturday that it had seized oilfields in northern Kirkuk.
Iraq’s state-run North Oil Company said on Saturday that a KRG force had taken control of some oil wells in Bai Hassan oilfield in Kirkuk.
In a statement, the KRG said the Iraqi constitution clearly stipulates that natural resources are property of all Iraqis and not of a “single company”, referring to the Iraqi Oil Company.
“The North Oil Company has, for years, without the presence of an oil and gas law, working in opposition to the Constitution,” the KRG stated.
“If they are willing to work towards a resolution to outstanding issues, let the oil and gas law be implemented as per the Iraqi Constitution,” it added.
“This campaign against the Kurdistan Region is purely political and without legal basis. Such allegations against the Kurdistan Region are completely untrue and are aimed at sowing discord and agitating against the rights of the Kurdistan Region’s oil.”
Iraqi forces took back control of Kirkuk oilfields from the Kurds in 2017 following a referendum on Kurdish independence.
Baghdad responded to the plebiscite, in which Kurds overwhelmingly voted for independence, by dislodging Peshmerga forces from territories claimed by both Baghdad and the Kurds, including the oil city of Kirkuk.
Kirkuk’s oilfields had been under Kurdish control since 2014, when the Iraqi army collapsed in the face of Islamic State. The Kurdish move prevented the militants from seizing the region’s oilfields.