BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Iraq will start exporting oil from the northern Kirkuk fields to Iran before the end of January, Iraqi Oil Minister Jabar al-Luaibi told reporters on Sunday in Baghdad.
About 30,000 barrels per 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 swap agreement announced last month by the two countries to allow a resumption of oil exports from Kirkuk.
Iraq and Iran have agreed to swap up to 60,000 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 Islamic State. The Kurdish move prevented the militants from seizing the region's oilfields.
Iraq and Iran are also planning to build a pipeline to carry the oil from Kirkuk to avoid having to truck the crude, Luaibi said last month.
The planned pipeline could replace the existing export route from Kirkuk via Turkey and the Mediterranean.
(Reporting by Ahmed Rasheed, writing by Maher Chmaytelli; editing by John Stonestreet and Jane Merriman)