DUBAI (Reuters) – The development of oil and gas in Iraq’s northern Kurdish region may not be in the interest of major regional energy producer Iran, Kurdish Prime Minister Masrour Barzani said on Tuesday.
Attacks on the region’s capital Erbil and the federal government’s legal actions have demonstrated the resistance to development in the energy-rich region.
Iran’s elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) said early this month it struck Israeli “strategic centres” in Erbil in retaliation for an Israeli air raid that killed two of its members in Syria.
But most of the 12 missiles fired into the Kurdish capital hit the villa of a Kurdish businessman involved in the autonomous region’s energy sector.
A Kurdish gas export plan could threaten Iran’s place as a major supplier to Iraq and Turkey when its economy is reeling from international sanctions, sources told Reuters.
The attack was shortly after Iraq’s federal court deemed an oil and gas law regulating the oil industry in Iraqi Kurdistan unconstitutional and demanded that Kurdish authorities hand over their crude supplies.
Speaking at an industry event in the United Arab Emirates, Barzani said the court ruling was political and that Kurdistan is negotiating with the Iraqi federal government to preserve what he called their constitutional rights.
Kurdistan has given assurances to its trading partners and international organisations that operate in the autonomous region that it remains committed to honouring their contracts, Barzani added.
(Reporting by Maha El Dahan, Riham Alkousaa and Yousef Saba; Writing by Michael Georgy and Nadine Awadalla; Editing by Alex Richardson and Barbara Lewis)