18 July 2009 

Speech by KRG Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani 

Opening of the Khurmala Dome Oil Project 
Khurmala, Kurdistan Region of Iraq 

Distinguished Guests, 

Ladies and Gentlemen, 

Good afternoon and you are all very welcome. I would like to especially welcome Mr. Khalilzad, former US Ambassador to Iraq and also US Ambassador to the United Nations. I welcome him and his family, and I am happy that they are here today. In fact, this process that we are celebrating began when he was in Baghdad. 

I am pleased and privileged to be present with you today and to participate in this important ceremony – opening this central processing station and the Erbil oil refinery – from the Khurmala dome. 

At the outset, I would like to especially thank Dr. Ashti Hawrami, Minister of Natural Resources, and all the officials and staff in his ministry; also Mr. Sheikh Baz Karim, President and CEO of the KAR Group; Mr. Mahmoud Karim, Deputy CEO of KAR Group; and all of the engineers, technicians and staff that made this dream come true and brought about this tremendous achievement. I appreciate the daily activity and the work done here for the benefit of the Kurdistan Region. 

From the bottom of my heart, I would like to congratulate you and all the people of the Kurdistan Region and Iraq for this great achievement in rebuilding the oil infrastructure in the Kurdistan Region and Iraq. 

I am confident that the people of the Kurdistan Region highly appreciate your efforts and thank you for this service that you have offered to all of us. 

Since I have assumed office as Prime Minister, in addition to fulfilling my normal duties and facilitating service projects to improve the living conditions of our people, I had two particular aspirations which I wanted to achieve. 

These objectives were to make both electricity and fuel available to the Kurdistan Region, because our people have suffered a great deal in previous years due to electricity and fuel shortages. 

In formulating policy for our government, we have always been committed to the Iraqi Constitution and protection of the interests of the Kurdistan Region and all of Iraq. 

As you are all aware, recent tensions have occasionally surfaced with the federal, central government over pending issues. 

It is clear that, as long as those issues remain unresolved; this will threaten the stability that we all aspire to achieve in Iraq. 

I would like to address this matter openly. What we in the Kurdistan Regional Government want to achieve is to resolve these issues peacefully and in accordance with the terms and conditions enshrined in the Iraqi Constitution, for which 80% of Iraqis voted. 

We have always been ready in the past, and we are ready and willing now to sit at the negotiating table with the federal government and talk with those who possess the will to solve these issues. 

Sometimes we in the Kurdistan Region are accused of being too firm and insistent in our demands. But I would like Iraqis and the whole world to be aware of two things: 

First, our insistence on the commitment to the Constitution and its guarantees for freedom and democracy emerge directly from our history. 

We in the Kurdistan Region have suffered greatly as the result of agreements which were unfulfilled and promises which were ignored. 

In order for us to live in peace and stability, we want our rights to be protected. This will take place as a result of permanent agreements by which all concerned will abide, in accordance with Constitutional principles. We don’t have any hidden agenda in Iraq. 

Second, for those who say that we cannot negotiate seriously, there are tangible examples of how the KRG has participated seriously in negotiations that have led to historic results. Therefore, we can engage in a similar manner with Baghdad in this regard. 

We want to be a reliable and cooperative partner with the federal government. Our vision of security, stability and prosperity for the Kurdistan Region requires a peaceful and cooperative relationship and coordination with all of Iraq and with Baghdad and we will continue with this policy in the Kurdistan Region. 

All that we ask for is to have a relationship within the framework of the Constitution, which is the highest law of the land and the greatest guarantee to us that history will not repeat itself. 

Our message is clear. The Kurdistan Regional Government is ready and hopeful that serious dialogue will resume with the federal government to solve the issues according to Constitutional principles and within a federal, democratic Iraq. 

Our insistence on resolving the issues are with the aim of guaranteeing a bright future for our people and the prevention of any repetition of our tragic history. 

All of you know that the issue of making fuel available to our people is no less important than making electricity available. The key factor regarding the lack of electricity and delays regarding power generation projects, in fact, has been the lack of fuel. 

Over the past few years I have had the honor of opening many related projects in the energy and natural resources sector. 

In November 2005 I participated in the spudding ceremony in the Tawke oil field in Zakho. After that I participated in the spudding ceremony in the Taq Taq field. Two years ago we inaugurated the Dana Gas project to make gas available to electricity power stations. 

And in early June of this year we have all participated together in the historic ceremony to send Kurdistan oil to international markets, for the first time under the auspices of the Kurdistan Regional Government, through the Turkish Ceyhan port. The revenue will go to Baghdad and through Baghdad to the Kurdistan Region. 

Today’s valuable event points to two key achievements. First, extracting oil from the Khurmala fields, and second, establishing a refinery with the capacity of 75,000 barrels per day. 

This project and central processing station, together with the refinery, constitutes an integrated project – it begins with extracting crude oil and ends with the creation of oil products such as diesel, benzene, kerosene, etc. 

Ladies and Gentlemen, 

Over the past five years we have been able to transform plans and dreams into reality and production. Today we have become producers of energy, and we can provide for the fuel needs of our citizens. These projects will benefit and serve the interests of all citizens in the Kurdistan Region and throughout Iraq. 

Before implementing this strategic project, some people doubted the possibility of its implementation and success. 

Their pretext was that technical and financial obstacles, along with impediments from Baghdad and the lack of participation of international companies would hinder the implementation of these projects. 

Some said that our neighbor Turkey would neither be cooperative nor would agree to the KRG administering such a project. But today we see that Turkey is far from an impediment – Turkish companies are in fact participating in the implementation of this project. 

There were some who thought that the KRG could not exploit its natural resources for the benefit of its citizens and their living conditions. But I believed then as now that it is possible for these projects to be implemented. True, there are hurdles and problems along the way. But our strong belief in our capacity and the will of our people encouraged us to not abandon these developments. 

We will never fall under the influence of those who suggest that such projects cannot be implemented, because we have benefited from the experiences of the past few years. We must continue in our efforts to serve the interests of our people. 

We cannot rely on foreign fuel and electricity to help us cope with the heat of summer and the cold of winter. We will fulfill the promise that our people must live like citizens of the developed world in terms of living standards and prosperity. 

Our efforts proved that, with a sound vision, continuous effort, and with our domestic talent, skills, and capabilities, we will be able to bring about great achievements. 

In a few moments the crude oil will begin to flow from this field to the Erbil refinery. This is the first private sector refinery in the Kurdistan Region and throughout Iraq that operates at a serious capacity – making a large amount of fuel available to the people. 

This refinery will be able to generate vital products that will reduce dependence on foreign commodities. More importantly, when fully operational, it will provide fuel for all vehicles and households for the entire Kurdistan Region. 

And as the result of such projects implemented with the participation of the private sector, we provide opportunities to develop our human resources. 

In terms of establishment and technical work this is a very advanced project. Because of the serious effort and facilitation of the Kurdistan Regional Government, this project has been brought to the stage of operation within seven months. This in itself is a record achievement and a source of pride. I congratulate KAR Group for this historic achievement. 

In addition to that, this project was built with modern technology and in an environmentally-friendly way. And this meets the requirements of the KRG. 

We commend their efforts, because with this step they have made employment opportunities available for hundreds of workers, such as domestic technicians and engineers. Close to 2,000 employees and engineers from the Kurdistan Region worked on this project alone. 

We wish to continue supporting local and foreign investors. We put forward our initiatives and vision so that the private sector can make capital and necessary technology available to support and develop the oil industry in the Kurdistan Region. We emphasize in our vision that the private sector is the dynamo of national development.

This model and concept to develop energy resources has been successful – not only in the Kurdistan Region but all over the world. 

To compensate for past suffering, the Kurdistan Regional Government has tried to benefit from its natural resources through adhering to international standards. 

We believe that the energy industry should not belong to the public sector alone; in fact, we must provide opportunities for the private sector to undertake strategic projects in the oil industry. 

Ladies and Gentlemen, 

We are proud of what we have achieved in the oil and energy sector. 

Establishing this refinery is a great sign that larger developments are forthcoming in the Kurdistan Region. I would like to reiterate the fact that our natural resources are a blessing and we must all share from its benefits. Utilizing these resources in a proper manner will lead to securing a well-deserved, better livelihood for the people of the Kurdistan Region and all of Iraq. 

and intelligent allocation of capital, in cooperation with the talent and capability of the private sector, can open doors for us towards a bright and promising future. I thank you for your efforts, for bringing these developments to fruition. 

Today is a historic day after Operation Iraqi Freedom. In the past natural resources were used to buy weapons and destroy the country. 

We all know that in the past oil was a source of suffering and destruction upon our homeland. But today, because of the sound policies of the Kurdistan Regional Government, the same resources provide a bright future for our people. 

We cannot expect to rebuild a destroyed country easily. We must all work together and try to fulfill that promise.

On behalf of the Kurdistan Regional Government and the people of the Kurdistan Region, who are the direct beneficiaries of these projects, I thank you. I appreciate your tireless efforts in making this project a success. 

Finally, I would like to thank the Iraqi Trade Bank, Mr. Hussein Arzy, who has been a big source of support for the infrastructure projects in the Kurdistan Region. 

Once again, I would like to renew my salutations to all of those who participated in the success of this project. I wish them continued success. 

Thank you very much for attending on this historic day. You are all very welcome. Thank you. 


As per KRG's agreement with the Iraqi government and under the 2015 Budget Law


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