ANKARA Nov 1 Turkey is aware of Iraq's concerns
about Iraqi Kurdistan's energy projects and will take them into
account, Turkish Energy Minister Taner Yildiz said on Friday,
after the semi-autonomous region said it would build a second
oil pipeline to Turkey.
The pipeline, by offering a route to Western markets, may
encourage northern Iraq's Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) to
seek greater independence from Baghdad, with which it has been
at loggerheads over oil-production contracts and revenue
"The central Iraqi government has two fundamental
sensitivities and these are justified sensitivities," Yildiz
"One is to determine the amount of crude oil that is
exported and the other one is to monetise these exports and
implement that. Turkey will be mindful of these sensitivities."
Baghdad has repeatedly warned that any Turkish deals with
the hydrocarbons-rich KRG may breach its agreements with Iraq.
Iraq's deputy prime minister for energy, Hussain
al-Shahristani, told Reuters on Thursday that he had conveyed
Baghdad's views to Turkish Energy Minister Taner Yildiz.
"Turkey is aware of Iraq's concern and total rejection of
that (KRG pipeline) plan.....Turkey assured us they respect that
agreement and they will not allow any export of Iraqi crude
without the permission of the federal government in Baghdad,"
A pipeline built by the KRG is already complete and is being
tested to be ready for operation in early 2014.
Ashti Hawrami, the KRG's natural-resources minister, said on
Thursday in Istanbul that the region now wants to build a second
link with Turkey as it targets production of 3 million barrels
of oil per day eventually for export.
The second link is expected to run parallel to the ageing
Kirkuk-Ceyhan pipeline administered by Baghdad.
Yildiz said talks held over the past two days with various
Iraqi officials were positive. "We have both spoken to Hawrami
and Shahristani. We are not in a position to take any sides, we
have no such wish," he said.
He added that Turkey wants to boost energy cooperation with
Baghdad, including raising capacity on the outdated
Kirkuk-Ceyhan crude pipeline and building a new link.
The ageing double-pipe Kirkuk-Ceyhan is operating at a
fraction of its capacity and is regularly knocked out of action
by sabotage or technical faults.
"Increasing all of Iraq's revenue is among Turkey's aims. As
long as political borders remain intact, Turkey is seeking to
expand its energy parameters in every country," Yildiz said.
Turkey, with little hydrocarbons of its own, has in the past
increased trade links and energy cooperation with the
neighbouring Kurdistan region of Iraq, raising the ire of Iraqi
Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki.
But Ankara may now be seeking to mend fences with the
Baghdad government in Baghdad, and its ally Iran, as the crisis
in Syria drags on. On Friday, the foreign ministers of Turkey
and Iran met in Istanbul and signalled a thaw in their
(Writing by Humeyra Pamuk; Editing By Barry Moody and Sonya