TEHRAN, April 8 (Xinhua) -- Iran's Petroleum Ministry said on Sunday that a delay in the implementation of an oil swap deal with Iraq is related to Baghdad's unpreparedness and their technical problems.
In a note to the Tasnim News Agency, Iran's Petroleum Ministry said the problem of the four-month delay lies in the Arab country's failure to remove the obstacles.
"The slight delay in implementing the major deal on swapping the crude oil produced in northern Iraq is mainly because of unprepared infrastructures and some logistical deficiencies on Iraq's part," it said.
Oil swap operation will begin soon, the letter said, dismissing reports on "oil diplomacy negligence" or secret issues behind the delay.
On Saturday, Hamid Hosseini, the secretary-general of Iran-Iraq Chamber of Commerce, said that the long-delayed project to swap Iraq's Kirkuk crude oil with Iran is expected to be launched later this month.
Hosseini said that during Iran's First Vice President Eshaq Jahangiri's recent visit to Baghdad, Iraq asserted that it is committed to the bilateral agreements, including laying a pipeline for swapping Kirkuk oil and importing natural gas from Iran.
Following the Iraqi Kurdistan region's independence vote in last September, Baghdad took steps to bring oil exports under federal control, calling on other countries to deal exclusively with the central government regarding oil trade.
"If crude oil transfer venture from Kirkuk is launched, nearly 650,000 barrels of oil can be delivered to Iran per day," Hosseini said.
Earlier, he said that "we can also provide them with engineering services to complete their energy and power projects in return for transferring crude to Iran."
Although Iraq and Iran are rivals in the global oil market, they can collaborate on oil projects as they share a large number of massive hydrocarbon reserves, he added.