Picture: Hasan Jamali, AP
INTERNATIONAL - Iraq will start exporting oil from the northern Kirkuk fields to Iran before the end of January, Iraqi Oil Minister Jabar al-Luaibi said yesterday in Baghdad. 

About 30000 barrels a day of crude will be trucked to Iran’s Kermanshah refinery in the first instance, he said. “God willing, we will start before the end of the month,” he added.

Trucking crude to Iran comes under a swop agreement announced last month by the two countries to allow a resumption of oil exports from Kirkuk. Iraq and Iran have agreed to swop up to 60000 barrels per day of crude produced from Kirkuk for Iranian oil to be delivered to southern Iraq, Luaibi said last month. 

Kirkuk crude sales have been halted since Iraqi forces took back control of the fields from the Kurds in October. Kurdish forces took control of Kirkuk in 2014, when the Iraqi army collapsed in the face of an onslaught by Islamic State.