Iraqi Kurds OK Abu Dhabi’s Taqa Plans to Pump Oil
Kurdistan-Turkey pipeline to complete by end of 2013
Kurdistan Regional Government authorities have given the green light to a consortium led by a United Arab Emirates state-run energy investment company to pump oil, a statement said Monday, in a latest move shows the Kurds> determination to pursue ambitious oil plans despite central government objections.
Kurdistan Region and the central government in Baghdad have been in a long-running dispute over rights to develop natural resources, with each side relying on a different interpretation of the constitution. Baghdad says it is the sole authority to negotiate and award deals, while Kurds argue that the constitution allows them to do so without going through the Federal Oil Ministry.
In its statement, Abu Dhabi National Energy Co., known as Taqa, said it plans to spend more than $300 million in the first phase of a plan to pump about 30,000 barrels a day from the Atrush block by early 2015. The statement added that the second phase, yet to be approved, is expected to add another 30,000 barrels a day.
TAQA and its partners are also evaluating the feasibility of producing associated gas, a by-product of producing oil, for delivery to the domestic market.
The deal, which was signed in 2012, is one of scores the Kurds have signed unilaterally since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein and paved the way for broader Kurdish autonomy.
Taqa, which is majority owned by the oil-rich government of Abu Dhabi though more than a quarter of its shares are available to the public, holds 39.9 percent of the consortium. ShaMaran Petroleum Corp., a Kurdish oil company, has 20.1 percent, the U.S. Marathon Oil Corp. has a 15 percent share and Kurdistan has the remaining 25 percent.
Kurdish officials claim their region holds 45 billion barrels, though that figure cannot be confirmed independently. They plan to produce one million barrels per day by 2015 and two million barrels per day in 2019.
On the other hands and as an attempt to realize these targets, the KRG has reached an agreement with the Turkish Government to extend an oil pipeline directly from Kurdistan Region to Turkey, which would bypass the Iraqi central government in exporting Kurdish oil. Despite the outrage of the central government officials, Kurds have been insisting on pursuing the project, and the KRG Minister of Natural Resources Dr. Ashti Hawrami, said earlier this month that the project is progressing very well and in a few months it will be ready to pump oil to Turkey.
“The new oil export pipeline from the Kurdistan Region is almost complete and is expected to be operational by the end of the year,” Dr Hawrami said. “We are helping the security and continuity of energy supply to the world.”
He added, <Sharing all oil revenues according to the federal constitution, and the economic independence of Kurdistan are the recipe for the unity of Iraq.>
The minister was speaking at a meeting addressing energy security, hosted by the KRG UK Representation. Other speakers were Nadhim Zahawi MP, Jane Kinninmont of the think tank Chatham House, analyst and consultant Shwan Zulal, and Bayan Sami Abdul Rahman, the KRG>s High Representative to the UK. The meeting was chaired by Robert Halfon MP, vice-chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on the Kurdistan Region.
Dr Hawrami told an audience of Conservative Party members, diplomats, journalists, business representatives and analysts that Kurdistan Region>s energy riches had been ignored or used against the Kurdish people under previous Iraqi governments. <With the liberation of Iraq, a new era, an opportunity for sharing power and wealth, opened up in Iraq. The Iraqi constitution facilitates that but so far it hasn>t been implemented,> he said.
The minister also noted that the KRG sees Turkey not just as a conduit for Kurdistan>s oil and gas to Western markets, but also as a consumer and partner. Dr Hawrami highlighted the role of British companies in the energy sector as well as in Kurdistan>s growing economy generally. He encouraged British companies to continue to look at Kurdistan as a destination for their investment. <We have a good relationship with Britain and there are lots of opportunities for British companies. It>s a win-win
A technician works in an oilfield in Iraqi Kurdistan Region. File Photo.