Skip to main content

Iraq asks Turkey to resume oil exports as firms in Kurdistan region scale back

Turkey has still yet to restart oil flows from northern Iraq following a controversial court ruling despite efforts by Iraqi and Kurdish authorities. The stoppage is threatening the Kurdistan Region’s oil sector.
Workers at the Northern Oil Company carry out maintenance work at the pumping station in the northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk.

Iraq’s state oil company has officially asked Turkey to restart its oil pipeline with the Kurdistan Region, Kurdish authorities said on Thursday. The move comes as international oil companies are again scaling back operations in the autonomous region in northern Iraq due to the dispute.

Background: Turkey stopped receiving oil exports from the Kurdistan Region in March. This followed a Paris-based International Chamber of Commerce ruling that Turkey owed Iraq $1.5 billion for receiving unauthorized exports between 2014 and 2018.

This dispute relates to the Kurdistan Region’s independent oil exports. Baghdad has long opposed the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) exporting oil to Turkey. In April, the KRG and Baghdad reached an agreement whereby Iraq’s state oil company, SOMO, will market the region’s oil in conjunction with the KRG.

The oil exports from the Kurdistan Region to Turkey were expected to begin following the April deal, but Turkey has yet to give the green light. The reasons why are unclear. Iraq expert Bilal Wahab told Al-Monitor’s On the Middle East podcast that Turkey may be seeking pledges that Iraq will not seek further compensation for accepting the Kurdistan Region’s oil during periods not covered by the International Chamber of Commerce ruling.

What happened: The KRG said on Thursday that it had reached an agreement with the federal Iraqi government on the resumption of oil exports from the region. As a result, SOMO asked Turkey on Wednesday to begin receiving oil again via the Ceyhan port.

The Turkish government did not immediately comment on the news.

Why it matters: The stoppage of oil flow is threatening the Kurdistan Region’s oil sector. One oil worker told Al-Monitor in April that the oil fields “will continually decline” if they are not drilled regularly.

Also on Thursday, the Norwegian oil company DNO said it is reducing operations in the Kurdistan Region due to the uncertainty of the dispute with Turkey.

“Given the uncertain timing of export resumption and, importantly, of payments by the Kurdistan Regional Government for previous oil sales, DNO has scaled back [spending] in Kurdistan, including drilling,” the company said in a statement.

On Wednesday, Canada’s ShaMaran Petroleum said its “operating partners are significantly deferring planned capital expenditures” in the Kurdistan Region due to the stoppage.

Under normal circumstances, the Kurdistan Region exports 450,000 barrels a day to Turkey via Ceyhan, while federal Iraq exports 70,000.

Other international oil firms stopped operations in the Kurdistan Region in March for the same reason.

Both the KRG and the federal government are heavily dependent on oil revenue.

Know more: The KRG statement on asking Turkey to restart oil flows came during Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani’s visit to the Kurdistan Region to attend the opening of the Barzani National Memorial. The memorial commemorates the “struggle for Kurdish freedom,” according to the Kurdish news outlet Rudaw.

The visit could be a sign of improved relations between the KRG and the federal government following the oil dispute and historic tensions related to the Kurdish struggle for independence. 

Join hundreds of Middle East professionals with Al-Monitor PRO.

Business and policy professionals use PRO to monitor the regional economy and improve their reports, memos and presentations. Try it for free and cancel anytime.

Already a Member? Sign in


The Middle East's Best Newsletters

Join over 50,000 readers who access our journalists dedicated newsletters, covering the top political, security, business and tech issues across the region each week.
Delivered straight to your inbox.


What's included:
Our Expertise

Free newsletters available:

  • The Takeaway & Week in Review
  • Middle East Minute (AM)
  • Daily Briefing (PM)
  • Business & Tech Briefing
  • Security Briefing
  • Gulf Briefing
  • Israel Briefing
  • Palestine Briefing
  • Turkey Briefing
  • Iraq Briefing

Premium Membership

Join the Middle East's most notable experts for premium memos, trend reports, live video Q&A, and intimate in-person events, each detailing exclusive insights on business and geopolitical trends shaping the region.

$25.00 / month
billed annually

Become Member Start with 1-week free trial
What's included:
Our Expertise AI-driven

Memos - premium analytical writing: actionable insights on markets and geopolitics.

Live Video Q&A - Hear from our top journalists and regional experts.

Special Events - Intimate in-person events with business & political VIPs.

Trend Reports - Deep dive analysis on market updates.

All premium Industry Newsletters - Monitor the Middle East's most important industries. Prioritize your target industries for weekly review:

  • Capital Markets & Private Equity
  • Venture Capital & Startups
  • Green Energy
  • Supply Chain
  • Sustainable Development
  • Leading Edge Technology
  • Oil & Gas
  • Real Estate & Construction
  • Banking

We also offer team plans. Please send an email to and we'll onboard your team.

Already a Member? Sign in

Turkey Briefing Turkey Briefing

Turkey Briefing

Top Turkey stories in your inbox each week

Trend Reports

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (4th R) attends a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping (3rd L) at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on February 22, 2019. (Photo by HOW HWEE YOUNG / POOL / AFP) (Photo credit should read HOW HWEE YOUNG/AFP via Getty Images)

From roads to routers: The future of China-Middle East connectivity

A general view shows the solar plant in Uyayna, north of Riyadh, on March 29, 2018. - On March 27, Saudi announced a deal with Japan's SoftBank to build the world's biggest solar plant. (Photo by FAYEZ NURELDINE / AFP) (Photo credit should read FAYEZ NURELDINE/AFP via Getty Images)

Regulations on Middle East renewable energy industry starting to take shape

Start your PRO membership today.

Join the Middle East's top business and policy professionals to access exclusive PRO insights today.

Join Al-Monitor PRO Start with 1-week free trial