In the early hours of 12 June, Iraqi MPs finally concluded a four-day marathon of reading, amending and voting on the country’s blowout ID198.9tr ($153bn) 2023 budget, which will also apply for 2024 and 2025. Headline figures see little change from the government-submitted proposal in March (MEES, 24 March). But once the final legislation carries President Latif Rashid’s signature, it stands to reset the trajectory for the semi-autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG)’s independent oil sector.

The KRG’s financial picture is now clearing following months of negotiations with the central government which culminated in a mid-March budget deal (MEES, 24 March), followed by an equally pivotal early-April agreement between the KRG and Baghdad to resume pipeline oil exports via Turkey’s Mediterranean oil terminal of Ceyhan in the aftermath of Baghdad’s ICC arbitration win (MEES, 31 March & MEES, 7 April). While this has secured financial stability for the KRG, it has been at the expense of effectively surrendering control of the region’s independent oil sector, long the key priority for Erbil, to Baghdad. (CONTINUED - 3322 WORDS)