Iraqi Oil Minister Jabar al-Luaibi has asked BP ''to quickly make plans to develop the Kirkuk oilfields," an oil ministry statement said on Wednesday.
- Battle for Kurdistan: U.S. Weapons Face Off Against U.S. Weapons as Iraqi Forces Seize Key Kurdish Oil Center
- Kurdish Forces Pull Back to June 2014 Line as Iraqi Army Continues to Advance
- Battle for Kurdistan: Trump Betrays a U.S. Ally, Allowing Iran to Gain the Upper Hand
Iraqi government forces on Monday took control of the oil-rich region of Kirkuk from Kurdish peshmerga fighters after Iraqi Kurds voted for independence in last month's referendum. The Kirkuk area has been under Kurdish control since 2014, won in the course of the war with the Islamic State.
BP says on its website it has provided technical assistance in the past to the Iraqi state-owned North Oil Company to aid the redevelopment of the Kirkuk field.
Kirkuk, a city of more than one million people, lies just outside KRG territory but Peshmerga forces were stationed there in 2014 when Iraqi security forces collapsed in the face of an Islamic State onslaught. The Peshmerga deployment prevented Kirkuk’s oilfields from falling into jihadist hands.
Kirkuk is estimated to have around 9 billion barrels of recoverable oil remaining, according to BP.
On Sunday, Kurdish Peshmerga fighters rejected a warning from an Iraqi paramilitary force to withdraw from a strategic junction south of Kirkuk, which controls the access to some of the region’s main oilfields.
The Baghdad central government has taken a series of steps to isolate the autonomous Kurdish region since its overwhelming vote for independence in the referendum, including banning international flights from taking off or landing there.