(Adds details, background)
BAGHDAD Feb 20 Iraq and Iran signed a
memorandum of understanding on Monday to study the construction
of a pipeline to export crude oil from the northern Iraqi fields
of Kirkuk via Iran, the Iraqi oil ministry said in a statement.
The agreement, signed in Baghdad by the oil ministers of the
two countries, also calls for a commission to solve a conflict
about joint oilfields and the possible transportation of Iraqi
crude to Iran's Abadan refinery, it said.
The pipeline would help Iraq diversify the export routes of
crude produced in Kirkuk and reduce its reliance on transit
through the Kurdish Region Government's territory.
Baghdad has a troubled relationship with the Kurdish
authorities that control the route of the existing pipeline from
Kirkuk to the Turkish Mediterranean port of the Ceyhan.
The flow of Kirkuk crude was interrupted for several months
last year as the Iraqi government disagreed with the Kurds on
their share in the national oil revenue and budget.
Iraqi Oil Minister Jabar al-Luaibi said in the statement
that he also agreed with visiting Iranian counterpart Bijan
Zanganeh to cooperate on the policies of the Organization of the
Petroleum Exporting Countries.
The two neighbours are OPEC's second- and third-largest
producers after Saudi Arabia. Iraq produces and exports most of
its crude from the southern region.
(Reporting by Maher Chmaytelli; editing by Jason Neely and