A number of private gas stations in Kirkuk have resumed operations after more than a month of closure, although the federal and local government have complained against them.
According to KirkukNow, a number of gas stations that were closed at the end of June by a decision from Baghdad, have been reopened for about a week and sell gasoline.
Rahand Ne'mat, a pump attendant at a commercial gas station in Kirkuk, told KirkukNow that the gas station was closed for a while but later the problem was resolved by Baghdad and we reopened the station.
According to information obtained by KirkukNow from a number of gas stations and government sources, there are no new measures taken by Baghdad following the decision to close the unlicensed private petrol stations, but some of them have been ignored through "payment of money and intermediaries" to reopen their gas stations.
The main reason for the closure of these gas stations is the lack of official licenses from the Iraqi Ministry of Oil.
End of June, the federal government have order the closure of 150 private petrol stations in Kirkuk and Ninewa for various reasons, including lack of licenses and smuggling.
About 120 private petrol stations in Kirkuk were closed. These stations were selling ordinary, premium and super gasoline at 1,200 Iraqi Dinars IQD (USD0.8) to 1,450 Iraqi dinars per liter.
In Kirkuk, 27 government and 68 private licensed petrol stations distribute state-subsidized gasoline at 450 IQD according to coupons, of which two to three petrol stations sell government gasoline at the commercial price of 1,000 IQD per liter without coupons.
Some gas stations have been ignored measures and reopened
"There are more than 100 commercial gas stations in Kirkuk, all of which were illegal and do not have a license to operate, so we have a complaint against them and should not be opened," a source from the state-run Kirkuk Oil Products Distribution Company told KirkukNow on the condition of anonymity.
According to the source who is not authorized to speak to media, their recommendations and decisions have not been implemented from the beginning, and even the decision to close gas stations was issued from Baghdad and other decisions will be issued by agreement.
Ali Anwar, the owner of one of the closed gas stations, told KirkukNow: “We were warned to close our gas stations earlier and we are closed up today.”
He says the reason for closing their gas stations was gas crisis; "While it turned out that the problem is not us, but we helped to prevent the problem of gasoline and daily drivers who did not have government gasoline coupons, bought gasoline from us and the pressure on the government gas station was reduced.”
The Northern, oil-rich province of Kirkuk, home to 1.7 million people, is supplied with 1.5 million liters of government gasoline daily.
Each private vehicle in Kirkuk province, according to the government coupon, every eight days are entitled to get only 50 liters of gasoline at a price of 450 Iraqi dinars IQD (USD0.3) per liter, while taxis will be given 120 liters and trucks will be given 80 liters.
Those petrol stations were accused of smuggling gasoline to the Kurdistan Region of Iraq KRI where most of petrol stations are private.
The price of a liter of ordinary gasoline in the KRI is 1200 IQD, pushing motorists to head to disputed territories to get cheaper gasoline.