Friday AM May 15th, 2009

A representative of the Kurdistan Regional Government visits Houston to discuss business opportunities in northern Iraq. Ed Mayberry reports.


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Iraq’s central government on Sunday approved Kurdish plans to export crude from two oil fields through the national pipeline to Turkey.  Iraq’s oil minister says the Kurds’ controversial oil deals with western companies are still considered “illegal and illegitimate.”  Hussain al-Shahristani told state television that oil extracted by these companies will be collected and marketed by the Iraqi Oil Ministry, and all revenues will be sent into the federal accounts.  The Greater Houston Partnership hosted Qubad Talabani from the Kurdistan Regional Government at a business opportunities luncheon at the Doubletree Hotel.  Talabani was a key Kurdish negotiator during the drafting of the transitional administrative law — Iraq’s first post-Saddam constitution. 

“There is a part of Iraq called the Kurdistan region that is a thriving and developing part of the country.  It is booming economically.  The financial crisis has not hit Kurdistan, so that the pace of development is still going in the right direction.  And I’m here to educate Texans — in particular the businesses based in Houston — to look at opportunities available in Kurdistan.”  

Since 2003, the Kurds have signed nearly two dozen oil production-sharing deals without consulting with the central government.  In 2008, Houston was Iraq’s largest U.S. trading partner, with some $7.6 billion in trade.  Iraq was Houston’s ninth-largest trading partner worldwide and second-largest trading partner in the Middle East. 

Ed Mayberry, KUHF Houston Public Radio News.

For more information, visit the Kurdistan Regional Government website.

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