Kirkuk governor accuses Peshmerga of seizing three oil wells

Acting Governor of Kirkuk Rakan al-Jabouri

SULAIMANI (ESTA) — Acting governor of Kirkuk Rakan al-Jabouri on Saturday accused Peshmerga forces and a Kurdish company of seizing three oil wells in the province.

Jabouri said the Peshmerga forces and Kar Group, owned by Baz Karim Barzanji whose home was hit by Iranian ballistic missiles in March, had seized the oil wells near Liheban village in Kirkuk in the past weeks.

He added that Iraq’s state-run North Oil Company had confirmed that Kar Group had begun expanding the oil wells.

“The Peshmerga forces have prevented employees at the North Oil Company and Iraqi forces from approaching the oil wells,” he noted.

In May, the Iraqi north oil company said Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) forces had taken control of some oil wells in Bai Hassan oilfield in northern Kirkuk.

A source, who spoke under condition of anonymity, told Esta Media Network that a KRG force had seized two oil wells in Bai Hassan oilfield.

In a statement, the KRG denied the allegations, saying it was a political campaign against the Kurdistan Region.

“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.

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