* Oil payments dispute with Baghdad ongoing
* Kurdish exports reached 200,000 bpd at their highest
ARBIL, Iraq, Dec 17 (Reuters) - Oil exports from Iraq's
autonomous Kurdistan region have fallen to an average of below
30,000 barrels per day (bpd), industry sources said on Monday, a
decline likely to worsen tensions between Baghdad and the
The fall comes at a time of increasing friction between the
Kurdish region and the central government in Baghdad, which has
withheld payments to oil companies operating in the north as
part of a wider dispute over petroleum rights.
Kurdistan has previously halted shipments of its oil in
protest over what it said were overdue payments from Baghdad,
but the reason for the current decline was not immediately
At their highest, Iraqi Kurdish oil exports reached around
"Exports are much lower than 30,000 now," said one industry
source on condition of anonymity.
Comment from the Kurdish ministry of natural resources was
not immediately available.
Last week, Kurdish crude flow was cut by around 75,000
barrels per day due to a technical problem at the Khurmala
oilfield, Iraqi oil sources said.
That followed an earlier reduction to 100,000 bpd.
In October, the Kurds agreed to export 250,000 bpd in 2013
if Baghdad paid operators in the region.
An initial sum of $650 million was transferred by Baghdad to
the Kurdistan regional government (KRG) in October, but a
subsequent payment has not yet been made.
Baghdad rejects the deals signed between Kurdistan and oil
companies including Exxon Mobil, Chevron and
Total as illegal and has blacklisted some that have
ventured into the northern region.
Kurdistan says its right to grant contracts to foreign
companies is enshrined in the Iraqi constitution, which was
drawn up following the 2003 invasion that ousted Sunni dictator
The oil payment dispute is part of a broader debate between
Baghdad and Kurdistan over control of oil and territories which
is straining Iraq's uneasy federal union one year after U.S.
(Editing by Patrick Markey; editing by Jason Neely)