The Kurds in recent years have struck dozens of deals with foreign oil companies, including Exxon Mobil Corp., Chevron Corp. and France's Total S.A.
A group of investors led by Hayward acquired Genel, formerly a Turkish company, in a $2.1 billion deal in 2011. It is the largest independent holder of reserves in the Kurdish region and one of the few companies actively producing oil in the enclave so far.
In an apparent response to Genel's exports, Iraq last week threatened to seize oil exports “smuggled across borders” and sue companies dealing in what it says is illegal trade in crude.
The Kurds on Thursday blasted suggestion that is in engaged in illicit trade in crude. In a lengthy statement, it said “the trade in oil and gas across Iraq's borders occurs as a result of official regional government policy. There is nothing clandestine or underhand(ed) about it.”
Iraq sits atop the world's fourth largest proven reserves of conventional crude, with about 143.1 billion barrels. Oil revenues make up 95 percent of the country's budget — a portion of which is earmarked for the Kurdish region. The Kurds last month suspended oil exports through a pipeline managed by Baghdad over a payment dispute with the central government.