Iraq will honour production-sharing contracts that Kurdish regional authorities have signed with foreign companies, Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki said in an interview with news agency AFP.
The report was not confirmed by the Oil Ministry and seemed to catch senior Iraqi oil officials by surprise.
Exports from the semi-autonomous Kurdish region were stopped following a prolonged dispute between Iraqi Kurdistan and the Arab-led government in Baghdad over the legality of contracts awarded by the Kurds to foreign companies.
"The oil ministry accepted these contracts because the nature of the extraction in Kurdistan is different from Basra," Maliki told AFP in an interview on Saturday, referring to Iraq's oil-rich southern province.
"There is a need for bigger efforts there, while in Basra it (oil) is closer to the surface. It's difficult to have service contracts in Kurdistan but it's normal to have them in southern Iraq," he added.
An Iraqi senior official close to Maliki and other officials contacted by Reuters on Sunday said they were not aware of any decision to accept these contracts. Iraq's Oil Ministry did not comment.
Kurdish exports from two fields -- Taq Taq and Tawke -- flowed briefly in 2009 but were halted when the Iraqi government refused to pay the oil companies working the fields, including Norway's DNO and Turkey's Genel Enerji.
Around 40 companies, including DNO, have invested in Kurdistan, but revenues have been curtailed by their inability to sell oil for export because Baghdad has deemed the contracts they signed unconstitutional.
Last week, crude started to flow from the Kurdish region's Tawke field at about 10,500 barrels per day after the two sides said they had reached a deal.
ReutersLast Mod: 07 Şubat 2011, 11:58