Kurdish forces have taken full control of two oilfields in Bai Hassan and Kirkuk in the north of Iraq.
An Iraqi oil ministry spokesman described the takeover as “dangerous and irresponsible” and wants an immediate withdrawal to avoid “dire consequences.”
The two oilfields have a combined production capacity of 450,000 barrels per day.
Kurdish authorities said the move comes after hearing that the oil ministry planned to sabotage a new pipeline that was under construction to link Kirkuk’s main oil fields.
It also follows Iraq withholding the salaries of public service workers in the autonomous region.
“Prime Minister Maliki unilaterally and unlawfully has cut the budget of Kurdistan region and stopped sending sending the payment of salaries of civil servants,” explained Falah Mustafa Bakkir, Head of the Kurdistan Regional Government’s Department of Foreign Relations.
“We are obliged to take action in order to provide services and pay the salaries of the people. Therefore we will continue with the oil until we meet our demands,” added Bakkir.
Kurds have taken advantage of the recent Islamic State militant advance in the region to seize territory including oilfields in Bai Hassan and Kirkuk.
Kurds see the Kirkuk as their historic capital.