* Kurdish forces seize Kirkuk oil facility
* Exports resumed after a brief halt
* Kurdish official threatens to halt exports again
(Adds fresh quotes, detail, background)
By Ahmed Rasheed
BAGHDAD, March 2 Crude flows from Iraq's
northern Kirkuk fields resumed on Thursday after being halted
for several hours when Kurdish forces stormed a facility in
protest at the Iraqi government's oil policy, several sources
with knowledge of the matter said.
Kurdish forces stormed the facility early on Thursday,
saying they were searching for explosives planted by Islamic
State militants whom Iraqi forces are fighting with the backing
of a U.S.-led coalition.
But a Kurdish official later said the facility had been
seized to put pressure on Baghdad to build an oil refinery in
Kirkuk, and that Kurdish forces would shut down oil flows again
unless their demands were met within a week.
"What we did today was a warning bell to the government,"
said Kurdish official Aso Mamand. "It's not fair for Kirkuk's
oil to be sent to other provinces whilst Kirkuk is suffering a
Oil officials and security sources in Kirkuk said the
Kurdish forces had not withdrawn from the facility, but had
allowed pumping to resume via a pipeline to the Turkish port of
Kurdish peshmerga forces took full control of Kirkuk city
and the surrounding area in 2014 when Islamic State militants
overran around one third of Iraq and the army's northern
But Iraq's state-run North Oil Company (NOC) now operate the
oil fields in the region, which were pumping around 120,000
barrels per day (bpd) into the pipeline before the shutdown, the
NOC executive said.
The forces that seized the facility, located around 15 km
(10 miles) west of Kirkuk, are loyal to the Patriotic Union of
Kurdistan (PUK) party, which is dominant in the area.
Pumping was suspended for several months last year because
of a conflict between Baghdad and Kurdish regional authorities
on oil revenue sharing.
Before last year's interruption, Kirkuk flows were
independently handled by Kurdish authorities.
(Reporting by Ahmed Rasheed and Isabel Coles; Editing by Jane
Merriman and Mark Potter)