By Kareem Zair
Azzaman, April 21, 2009
The Kurdish enclave in northern Iraq sleeps on nearly 45 billion barrel of oil reserves, the region’s Natural Resources Minister Ashti Hourami claimed.
It is the first time a senior Kurdish official makes such big claims about the region’s oil riches.
Oil Ministry officials in Baghdad doubted the figure and thought it was highly inflated.
They said Hourami’s numbers were politically motivated and “very far from the reality of the situation.”
The Kurds have been bragging about their oil wealth and using it as a leverage to pressure Baghdad.
However, they said there were still substantial reserves in the region, which they estimated at about 5 billion barrels.
The Kurdish enclave now includes the three northern province of Sulaimaniya, Kirkuk and Arbil. Several foreign firms have signed deals to develop oil fields in the region.
The Kurds claim they can now produce up to 200,000 barrels per day, but their exports have been blocked by the Oil Ministry which sees their oil activities as illegal.
The Kurds want to expand their territory to include disputed areas such as the oil-rich city of Kirkuk.
If that happens, Hourami said, the Kurds will in possession of nearly 65 billion barrels of the country’s proven reserves of 115 billion.
Iraqi Kurds say their region holds up to 45 billion barrels of oil - Source
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