Kur­dis­tan oil ex­ports to Tur­key may start next month

The Kurdish Globe - - FRONT PAGE -

KRG au­thor­i­ties in Iraq are seek­ing ways of sell­ing their oil on in­ter­na­tional mar­kets out­side the con­trol of Bagh­dad but a lin­ger­ing dis­pute with the cen­tral gov­ern­ment has paral­ysed de­vel­op­ment of new oil and gas projects in the re­gion.

Prime min­is­ter Nechir­van Barzani told re­porters in Ankara late Tues­day that a pipe­line from the Kur­dish re­gion could start car­ry­ing oil "be­fore Christ­mas", with­out elab­o­rat­ing.

He held a three-hour meet­ing with Turk­ish Prime Min­is­ter Re­cep Tayyip Er­do­gan and En­ergy Min­is­ter Taner Yildiz on Wed­nes­day to dis­cuss com­pre­hen­sive en­ergy deals be­tween Ankara and Er­bil.

The pipe­line project to Tur­key is pro­jected to carry up to 300,000 bar­rels per day (bpd), a frac­tion of the to­tal 2.25 mil­lion bpd OPEC-mem­ber Iraq ex­ported in Oc­to­ber.

Tur­key, which is de­pen­dent on Rus­sia and Iran to meet its grow­ing en­ergy needs, is seek­ing to se­cure af­ford­able oil and gas sup­plies from else­where, with Kur­dis­tan seen as the best op­tion.

Oil ex­ports from au­ton­o­mous Kur­dis­tan Re­gion to Tur­key could start next month, the re­gion's prime min­is­ter said as he held talks in Ankara Wed­nes­day on planned en­ergy tieups that are likely to anger Bagh­dad.

KRG au­thor­i­ties in Iraq are seek­ing ways of sell­ing their oil on in­ter­na­tional mar­kets out­side the con­trol of Bagh­dad but a lin­ger­ing dis­pute with the cen­tral gov­ern­ment has paral­ysed de­vel­op­ment of new oil and gas projects in the re­gion.

Prime min­is­ter Nechir­van Barzani told re­porters in Ankara late Tues­day that a pipe­line from the Kur­dish re­gion could start car­ry­ing oil "be­fore Christ­mas", with­out elab­o­rat­ing.

He held a three-hour meet­ing with Turk­ish Prime Min­is­ter Re­cep Tayyip Er­do­gan and En­ergy Min­is­ter Taner Yildiz on Wed­nes­day to dis­cuss com­pre­hen­sive en­ergy deals be­tween Ankara and Er­bil.

The pipe­line project to Tur­key is pro­jected to carry up to 300,000 bar­rels per day (bpd), a frac­tion of the to­tal 2.25 mil­lion bpd OPEC-mem­ber Iraq ex­ported in Oc­to­ber.

Tur­key, which is de­pen­dent on Rus­sia and Iran to meet its grow­ing en­ergy needs, is seek­ing to se­cure af­ford­able oil and gas sup­plies from else­where, with Kur­dis­tan seen as the best op­tion.

"We told Iraqi Kurds that if they bring their oil to the bor­der, we will buy it," a gov­ern­ment of­fi­cial told AFP on con­di­tion of anonymity.

But the deals risk ag­gra­vat­ing ten­sions in the pow­derkeg re­gion and harm­ing re­la­tions with Bagh­dad.

Hus­sein al-Shahris­tani, Iraq's deputy prime min­is­ter re­spon­si­ble for en­ergy af­fairs, said af­ter meet­ing Tur­key's am­bas­sador that Iraq's en­ergy re­sources be­longed to all Iraqis un­der the con­sti­tu­tion.

"The au­tho­rized side to ex­port and re­ceive fi­nan­cial prof­its is the cen­tral gov­ern­ment," he said in a state­ment.

Tur­key has been de­vel­op­ing ties with Iraqi Kur­dis­tan, and Er­do­gan held talks with Kur­dish Pres­i­dent Mas­sud Barzani in Tur­key's own Kur­dish dom­i­nated south- east ear­lier this month.

In the past, Tur­key re­fused to en­gage in of­fi­cial con­tacts with Iraqi Kurds, fear­ing the es­tab­lish­ment of an in­de­pen­dent Kur­dish state there could em­bolden its own Kurds.

But as Tur­key's econ­omy has boomed and its thirst for en­ergy grown, Er­do­gan's gov­ern­ment has moved to forge trade ties with Iraqi Kurds.

In an ad­dress dur­ing Presidet Barzani's visit, Er­do­gan for the first time re­ferred to the au­ton­o­mous re­gion in north­ern Iraq as "Kur­dis­tan", a long taboo word in Tur­key.

Ankara, Bagh­dad bury­ing the hatchet

Ankara is how­ever also keen on re­pair­ing ties with Bagh­dad, which have been strained for sev­eral years, and has of­fered to me­di­ate in the oil dis­pute.

Yildiz said last week that Ankara could serve as an in­de­pen­dent in­ter­me­di­ary by hav­ing Iraq's oil rev­enues de­posited into an es­crow ac­count at a Turk­ish state bank.

Tur­key's par­lia­ment speaker Cemil Cicek held talks in Bagh­dad on Tues­day, two weeks af­ter a land­mark trip by For­eign Min­is­ter Ah­met Davu­to­glu aimed at se­cur­ing a "fresh start" in re­la­tions.

Iraq's Shi­ite Prime Min­is­ter Nuri al-Ma­liki is ex­pected to visit Tur­key soon, ac­cord­ing to Turk­ish of­fi­cials, while me­dia re­ports say Er­do­gan is plan­ning to go to Bagh­dad and Er­bil.

A Bagh­dad-con­trolled oil pipe­line runs be­tween Kirkuk in Iraq and the south­ern Turk­ish port of Cey­han but it op­er­ates well be­low its ca­pac­ity of 1.5 mil­lion bar­rels per day.

Mete Goknel, for­mer di­rec­tor of Tur­key's sta­te­owned pipe­line com­pany Bo­tas, said the en­ergy projects with Iraqi Kurds were fi­nalised in Septem­ber.

A 220-kilo­me­tre (140mile) pipe­line from the Khur­mala oil­field south of Er­bil is ex­pected to ship crude to Habur on the Turk­ish bor­der, he told AFP.

From there, the pipe­line will be con­nected to the ex­ist­ing Iraqi-Turk­ish line. The sec­ond plan is to build a par­al­lel pipe­line from Khur­mala for nat­u­ral gas.

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