Tur­key’s energy min­is­ter gushes over KRG oil ex­ports

The Kurdish Globe - - FRONT PAGE -

The ex­port from Kur­dish-con­trolled oil fields in Iraq has ex­ceeded an av­er­age of 600,000 bar­rels per day (bpd), Tur­key’s Min­is­ter of Energy and Nat­u­ral Re­sources Taner Yildiz re­cently told a se­lect group of jour­nal­ists from the Kur­dis­tan re­gion.

Yildiz said last week that 66 mil­lion bar­rels of crude oil from the Kur­dis­tan re­gion have been ex­ported through Tur­key’s Cey­han port on the Mediter­ranean Sea over the last 15 months. He pre­dicts daily ex­port to soon reach one mil­lion bdp.

“For the mo­ment, the Kur­dis­tan Re­gional Gov­ern­ment [ KRG] sells its oil in­de­pen­dently and does not de­liver the rev­enues to Bagh­dad be­cause Iraq does not pay Er­bil due to its own fi­nan­cial prob­lems,” Yildiz said, re­fer­ring to the on­go­ing Er­bil-Bagh­dad bud­get dis­pute.

For­mer Iraqi Prime Min­is­ter Nouri al-Ma­liki with­held the KRG’s bud­get for much of 2014 and a new oil deal be­tween Er­bil and Iraq’s new Prime Min­is­ter Haidar al-Abadi, inked in prin­ci­ple last De­cem­ber, could not fully thaw re­la­tions be­tween the two ad­min­is­tra­tions.

Er­bil has ac­cused Bagh­dad of not liv­ing up to the De­cem­ber agree­ment that would give KRG a monthly pay­ment of $1 bil­lion. The Iraqi gov­ern­ment has said de­clin­ing oil prices, cou­pled with the KRG’s fail­ure to fully honor the agree­ment, have made the deal un­ten­able.

The cur­rent price of a bar­rel of crude oil is hov­er­ing be­low $50, re­duced dras­ti­cally from pre­vi­ous years.

“It is in the best in­ter­est of the Kur­dis­tan re­gion that Er­bil and Bagh­dad are in agree­ment, be­cause with­out sta­bil­ity you can never make use of nat­u­ral re­sources,” Yildiz said.

Re­la­tions be­tween Ankara and Bagh­dad have im­proved af­ter years of diplo­matic ten­sions. In the past, Tur­key had ac­cused Iraq’s Shi­ite gov­ern­ment of sec­tar­i­an­ism and sup­port­ing the Shi­ite gov­ern­ment of Syria’s Bashar al-As­sad, which Ankara views as a re­gional foe.

Yildiz was bullish on im­proved ties with Bagh­dad, say­ing Tur­key had plans for a long-term part­ner­ship in Iraq’s energy sec­tor.

The Turk­ish min­is­ter said Ankara will be part of a $41 bil­lion oil and gas pro­ject in Iraq which he said is ad­van­ta­geous for both coun­tries.

“Tur­key sup­ports all the com­po­nents of Iraq and wants to co­op­er­ate with them to use the coun­try’s nat­u­ral re­sources equally in the best in­ter­est of all of Iraq,” he said.

Yildiz re­jected any deal that would have neg­a­tive im­pacts on Ankara’s re­la­tions with KRG in terms of oil agree­ments.

Apart from a 50-year-old oil deal with Ankara, the Kur­dis­tan re­gion will from 2017 be a ma­jor ex­porter of nat­u­ral gas to Tur­key. The min­is­ter said the gas deal will be ben­e­fi­cial for both sides.

Yildiz said Bagh­dad's energy laws and reg­u­la­tions al­low for gas from other parts of Iraq to be sold in or­der to pro­vide for peo­ple’s ne­ces­si­ties and the re­gion’s elec­tric­ity.

“Be­cause of the prox­im­ity, I think we can buy KRG gas at a lower price, but not half the price as some peo­ple have sug­gested,” he said.

Com­ment­ing on claims that Tur­key deals with a po­lit­i­cal party, namely Kur­dis­tan Demo­cratic Party (KDP), rather than KRG in re­la­tion to their oil deals with Iraqi Kur­dis­tan Re­gion, Yildiz stated “We work in this sec­tor trans­par­ently and have noth­ing to hide. Our deal­ings about Iraqi Kur­dis­tan oil are di­rectly with the KRG, rather than with a po­lit­i­cal party.”

Another fo­cus of the meet­ing was the re­cent PKK-linked sabotage at­tack on the Kirkuk-Cey­han oil pipeline. The PKK said it was car­ried out by a splin­ter group with­out con­sult­ing the party's lead­er­ship.

“What PKK is do­ing is enor­mously detri­men­tal to the Kurds,” said Yildiz, point­ing to the KRG’s claim that the sabotage cost the KRG some $250 mil­lion in losses.

Yildiz also de­nied claims that Tur­key is ben­e­fit­ing from the sale of oil from ar­eas con­trolled by the Is­lamic State, or ISIS.

“Daesh [ISIS] is a ter­ror­ist group for us and we have no con­tact with them. These [al­le­ga­tions] are all pro­pa­ganda with­out ev­i­dence. Once some­one came to me and told me they have ev­i­dence, I told him to bring it. I have now been wait­ing for 15 months and he still hasn't brought it.”

“Tur­key earned $52 bil­lion from energy pro­duc­tion last year alone. Why would Tur­key deal with a ter­ror­ist group?”

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