Tuesday, 28 December 2010

Who will blink first?

Recognize my oil deals first then I will let you have the revenues you need, that's the condition set by Iraq's northern semi-autonomous Kurdish region on Tuesday to the central government in Baghdad to resume oil exports, The Associated Press reports.

The Kurdish reply came after numerous statements made by Iraq's new Oil Minister, Abdul-Karim Elaibi, that his Ministry is ready to receive all the oil produced to export it , have the revenues and will pay only the costs incurred by the developers until a final solution is reached on the deals .

Ali Hussein Balo, an adviser to the Kurdish Ministry of Natural Resources said the crude-rich region can significantly contribute to the nation's target of raising oil exports next year by shipping 150,000 barrels a day out of the country, but only if all "our deals are recognized officially in a signed paper by Baghdad," he told the AP.

Again, we are witnessing a psychological warfare between the Kurds and Arab-led government.

The Kurds are trying to play a hardball to get their controversial oil deals recognized by Baghdad which needs each drop of oil produced to generate the sorely needed cash. While Baghdad is trying to make use of the pressure the Kurds face from oil companies who want to end this nightmare and to get their money back.

In less than a week, Baghdad twice announced remarkable increases to it's daily production from around 2.4 million barrels a day to more than 2.6 million barrels now. It promises more increases in the future as if it is telling the Kurds that I can spare your contribution so you have two options; either to accept my condition or keep you oil underground.

Who will blink first?


Monday, 27 December 2010

Good luck both of you!

Iraq's oil policy will not be changed. That's the core of the message delivered Monday by the country's newly appointed Oil Minister, Abdul-Karim Elaibi, in his first official statement during a ceremony to formally put him in charge of the ministry after he was sworn in last Tuesday.

Elaibi, who served as deputy oil minister, also thanked his fellow Shiites, Iraq's Prime Minister, Nouri Al-Maliki and current Deputy PM for Energy and former oil minister, Hussein Al-Shahristani, for picking him up for this job and their trust in him to "continue the march we started together as one team."

Number of flags picturing the Shiite most revered Imam Hussein were seen fluttering on the roof of the Ministry to mourn his death anniversary which was few days ago while the building's corridors and stairs decorated with black banners either picturing or praising the revered Imam, a scene that tells the rise of previously oppressed Shiites after the 2003 U.S.-led invasion which toppled Saddam Hussein Sunni regime.

Also during that ceremony, Al-Shahristani gave for the first time an indication about the powers that are given to him in his new post, a question which has been repeatedly asked by many people, but he also kept it somehow vague. He summarized his new role as to "follow up" with the Iraq's energy sector developments.

That could mean that Al-Maliki has bowed to one of the Kurds' main demands which is to push Al-Shahristani aside from deterring their oil ambitious by stripping him from powers. Realizing that not only the Kurds hate him, Al-Shahritsnai started his speech with this sentence:

"I didn't expect such a big gathering would be here today to celebrate getting rid of me from the Ministry of Oil," Al-Shahristani told the more than 300 ministry's employees who gathered at its Cinema hall with some of them didn't find seats to sit as he was laughing.

"Hahahaha..." the audience replied.

"You will not easily get rid of me," Al-Shahristani said at the end of his nearly 20-minute speech. "I will continue following up with what is going in the Oil Ministry from my new post...I will follow up with Iraq's energy program whether in the Oil Ministry or Electricity Ministry or Water Resources Ministry."

Good luck both of you!