Oil workers are seen at the West Qurna Phase 2 field in the Basra region, 550km (340m) southeast of Baghdad, Iraq. (AP)
A dispute between Iraq's northern Kurdish region and the central government is "supposed to be resolved" and the region should start pumping oil for export early next year, Iraqi Oil Minister Hussain Al-Shahristani said on Monday.
The semi-autonomous northern area, locked in a dispute with the Baghdad government that halted exports last year, could produce 150,000 barrels per day next year, Shahristani told reporters in Baghdad, when asked if the dispute between the two governments had been resolved.
"It is supposed to be resolved and the region will start handing over the oil at the beginning of next year," he said. "The region informed us that they could produce 150,000 barrels (per day) next year."
The Kurdish region's oil minister told Reuters late last month that his government expected to secure recognition of its oil contracts from a new government in Baghdad and said he was confident oil would begin flowing from the region early next year.
Baghdad has insisted on controlling Iraq's energy resources, including the oilfields in the Kurdish region. Shahristani has said contracts signed by the Kurdistan Regional Government with foreign oil firms are illegal. On Monday, he said Baghdad was "not concerned with the contracts."
He said oil companies should present receipts for equipment and other expenses to the central government. "They will be reviewed. If they are acceptable and reasonable like the rest of the contracts that have been concluded in the rest of Iraq, the costs will be paid to the companies," Shahristani said.