SULAIMANI (ESTA) — Kurdistan Region’s Minister of Natural Resources Kamal Atrushi has resigned from his position due to health issues, the prime minister’s office said on Thursday.
The office of the Region’s premier said Atrushi had submitted his resignation to the prime minister as he is leaving to receive treatments abroad.
“Recently, the health condition of Dr. Kamal Atrushi, the minister of natural resources, has been unstable. Hence, he requested leave for treatment on a number of occasions,” the premier’s office said in a statement.
“Once again he is planning to go abroad for treatment and his treatment course will need more time. Thus, he willingly submitted his resignation to the head of the government,” it added.
The prime minister, Masrour Barzani, approved his resignation so as to avoid “negative impacts” on the ministry’s affairs, the statement read.
He also decided to appoint Atrushi as the premier’s adviser for energy affairs, according to the statement.
The prime minister also appointed electricity minister Kamal Mohammed Salih as acting minister of natural resources.
In January 2021, the Kurdistan parliament voted to approve Atrushi as the minister of natural resources.
The minister’s resignation comes as relations between Erbil and Baghdad has deteriorated due to oil exports from the Region. The Iraqi oil ministry is working to establish a new oil company in Kurdistan following a federal court ruling which deems Kurdistan Region’s oil and gas law unconstitutional.
The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) has been developing oil and gas resources independently of the federal government, and in 2007 enacted its own law that established the directives by which the region would administer them.
Kurdistan’s massive untapped oil reserves, lucrative production-sharing contracts and safe environment have prompted international oil companies over recent years to commit to investing billions of dollars there.
But in February, Iraq’s federal court deemed the oil and gas law regulating the oil industry in Kurdistan unconstitutional and demanded that the KRG hand over their crude supplies.
Iraq’s federal court’s ruling gives the oil ministry in Baghdad the authority to manage oil and gas fields in Kurdistan.
On Saturday, the ministry said the aim of the new company would be to enter into new service contracts with oil firms currently operating there under the KRG.
Reuters reported May 19 that the oil ministry had asked oil and gas firms operating in the Region to sign new contracts with state-owned marketer SOMO rather than the Kurdish government.
On May 7, Iraqi oil minister Ihsan Abdul Jabbar said the ministry would begin implementing a federal court ruling gives the ministry oversight of oil output in the Kurdistan Region after talks didn’t lead to a result.