London, UK ( – At a major conference in London this week, KRG Deputy Prime Minister Qubad Talabani reiterated the Kurdistan Region’s commitment to vital economic reforms and asked the oil industry to continue investing in Kurdistan.

Deputy Prime Minister Talabani said, “Through credible reform efforts, we want to show you, by actions not words, that we are a worthy partner. We seek your continued and increased investment. Our strong partnership with you in the oil and gas sector is crucial for Kurdistan’s continued progress and our mutual success.”

In his speech (click here to read) at the CWC Kurdistan-Iraq Oil and Gas Conference, Mr Talabani said that urgent austerity measures have reduced the consolidated fiscal deficit by 80% measured on a cash basis. Austerity will continue in 2017.

British MP Iain Duncan Smith: “We are proud to call you our allies, trading partners and fellow democrats” 

The Rt Hon Iain Duncan Smith, former leader of the UK Conservative Party, spoke at a gala dinner during the three-day conference. He congratulated the KRG on the large scale reforms and the fight against ISIS: “You are fighting on the front line of a battle for civilisation; the only thing standing between Iraq’s religious minorities and the murderous intentions of the Islamic state. Britain is proud to support the Government of Iraq and the KRG in this battle.”

He commended Minister Hawrami, saying, “Dr Ashti Hawrami...has single-handedly built an oil and gas industry in Kurdistan, against the odds and in the face of enormous challenges. Your opportunity is also Britain’s. British companies already have made major investments in Kurdish oil fields.”

“We know that there are still challenges ahead, but we are proud to call you our allies, trading partners and fellow democrats.” 

Deputy Prime Minister says international independent audit of oil and gas will increase citizen engagement

Deputy Prime Minister Talabani acknowledged the great hardship suffered by the people of Kurdistan due to necessary salary cuts. He said, “Along with the World Bank, we have prepared a comprehensive roadmap for structural reform in the Kurdistan region.” The reform plan includes a modernisation of the financial system, social protection strategy, and essential changes to the electricity sector to improve the service and reduce massive subsidies.

Mr Talabani said that the KRG is working to step up citizen engagement and public communications: “A cornerstone is the introduction of international audit of Kurdistan’s oil & gas operations.”

He added, “The KRG also remains fully open to engagement and cooperation with Baghdad in all areas, and reiterates its right to benefit from the program of international support currently being provided to Iraq.” 

Natural Resources Minister Ashti Hawrami speaking at the CWC Kurdistan Iraq Oil & Gas Conference 2016

Minister Ashti Hawrami announces 20 blocks will be open for bidding in 2017

The KRG Minister of Natural Resources, Dr Ashti Hawrami, said that 20 new and redrawn Kurdistan oil blocks will become available for bidding in 2017, and that the contract terms will continue to be win-win.

He said, “Even at an oil price of $30 to $40 dollars per barrel, Kurdistan’s blocks are still viable thanks to the Ceyhan supply route and relatively low production cost.”

Minister Hawrami thanked the international oil companies for their commitment to Kurdistan and said that KRG would continue to make payments. He noted, “We are honouring payments to international oil companies despite the Kirkuk oil halt and IS attacks, which had two months’ impact...if companies feel that they are getting paid late, please remember that our revenues also pay our Peshmerga forces.”

Ms Esra Dogran Grajover Turkish Foreign Ministry Official: Developing KRG and Iraq gas fields is vital for Turkey’s energy security

Ms Esra Dogan Grajover, Acting Deputy Director General at Turkey’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said, “Turkey hopes for the swift development of KRG and Iraq’s gas fields, which are vital for Turkey’s energy security.” She stressed that future KRG gas projects will play an important role in Turkey’s gas supply diversification strategy.

Minister Falah Mustafa Bakir, the KRG’s Head of Foreign Relations, described the impact of sheltering 300,000 Syrian refugees and over 1.5 million IDPs. He said, “The 30% increase in our population has stretched our resources to the literal breaking point and our economy has taken a hit. Sustaining the fight against ISIS along our 1,050 km internal border has been very costly.”

Dr Najmaldin Karim, Governor of Kirkuk, said that the governorate is a major IS target because it is multi-ethnic, multi-religious, and is rich in oil and gas. Dr Karim said that the Iraqi government is paying only government salaries in Kirkuk and has neglected to pay its owed petrodollars, while the KRG has paid Kirkuk $10 million dollars a month. 

The conference discussions focused on finding innovative solutions during challenging economic times, in areas such as gas processing, electricity, financial transparency and infrastructure security.

Other speakers included former US Ambassador James Franklin Jeffrey, former UK Special Representative to Iraq Sir David Richmond, Nadhim Zahawi MP, KRG Acting Minister Mowlowd Murad Muhialdin, and KRG Cabinet Secretary Dr Amanj Raheem. 

For more details about the speakers and conference programme, please see


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


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