Iraqi groups fail to agree oil payments, lawmaker says

Iraq’s political factions failed to agree on the amount of money due to international oil companies working in the semi-autonomous Kurdish region, said Ammar Tohme, a lawmaker from the ruling coalition.

Kurdish lawmakers said the companies are owed $3.6 billion, while the central government’s accounting bureau said the amount is $1.5 billion, Tohme said in a telephone interview from Baghdad. Iraq’s government-sponsored Iraqiya earlier said that the political groups had reached an agreement.

Lawmakers from the ruling coalition met Kurdish parties, along with government ministers and other officials, in parliament in Baghdad to discuss the issue. “The groups met today but the issue has not been settled,” Tohme said.

Exxon Mobil Corp. (XOM), DNO International ASA and Genel Energy Plc (GENL) are among companies caught in a dispute between Iraq’s central government and the Kurdistan Regional Government over production contracts, territorial claims and the sharing of oil revenue. Tensions have deepened in recent months, with armed clashes in the disputed Kirkuk area in November and a suspension in exports of Kurdish oil through the central government’s pipeline network since December.

The groups may call for a future meeting between Oil Minister Abdul Kareem al-Luaibi and Ashti Hawrami, the KRG natural resources minister, together with the parliamentary finance committee to reach an agreement on the payments, Tohme said.

Iraq, the largest producer in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries after Saudi Arabia, holds the world’s fifth- largest crude reserves, according to data from BP Plc (BP/) that include Canadian oil sands.