Iraqi troops have captured North Oil Company headquarters, northwest of Kirkuk, while also taking control of two oil-well clusters and a nearby refinery from Kurdish forces, reports say.
Last week, Baghdad’s troops seized two oil-well clusters that produce almost 300,000 barrels a day between them.
Meanwhile, Iraqi forces moved into the premises of Iraqi state-owned North Oil after taking the nearby K1 airbase, said the Kirkuk-based official. The recapture resulted in no fighting, while the Iraqi forces were also deploying in the nearby Baba Gurgur field and the North Oil refinery.
Oil and natural gas production from the Kirkuk region is proceeding normally despite the ongoing Iraqi military operation to seize the region from Kurdish forces, said another Iraqi Oil Ministry official in Baghdad.
“Kurdish leaders we consider as our brothers have agreed to hand over control of North Oil and North Gas company facilities which belong to the state,” said a military commander involved in the operation. “We have an agreement with some Kurdish leaders that the oil and gas facilities should stay out of the conflict,” he added.
North Oil contributes a small part of Iraq’s overall crude production, pumped mainly from fields in the south.
Baghdad wants control of the area’s oil deposits back from Kurdish forces, who seized the long-disputed area to chase off Islamic State militants in 2014. The Kurds, who overwhelmingly voted for independence in a referendum last month, see the resources as a financial lifeline for a future state.