ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
A worker is seen at the Najaf Oil Refinery, 130 kilometers south of Baghdad, Iraq. The central Iraqi government claims all fuel exports should go from Baghdad. AP photo
Turkey has dismissed demands by Baghdad that it cease accepting the “illegal” transfers of crude oil from the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) in the country’s north, saying such trade was legal.
“If there was a legal problem, we would not start exporting,” the Turkish official said. “Turkey must stop the unauthorized export of oil through its land,” Iraqi spokesman Ali Dabbagh said in an emailed statement. “Exporting oil from the Kurdistan region to Turkey is illegal.”
The remarks were the latest sign of cooling ties between Ankara
and Baghdad, as well as between Baghdad and Arbil. He warned that Turkey was contributing to the “smuggling of Iraqi oil” and said, “This matter will affect ties between the two countries, especially economic relations, which will be damaged.”
The oil and gas is the property of all Iraqis and it must be exported by, and its revenues go to, the federal government, “which represents all Iraqis,” spokesman Dabbagh said.
Ankara and Arbil admitted the beginning of such trade last week.
“The main issue here is the fact that both the Iraqi central government and the Iraqi Kurdish regional administration need these revenues,” Turkish Energy Minister Taner Yıldız said last week, adding that the trade did not violate the law. “We are conducting operations [with Baghdad and Arbil] similar to those we conduct with all neighboring countries in order to meet demand.” Private firm buys crude
This trade was being conducted by the private sector, Yıldız also said, referring to oil refiner Tüpraş.
The refiner has been struggling to import Iranian oil this month because of Western sanctions on ship insurance, Reuters quoted trading and shipping sources as saying last week. Yıldız, however, said Turkey was facing no problems there.
Agence France-Presse quoted a Kurdish official earlier this month as saying that the KRG had begun sending oil produced in its three-province region out of Iraq without the express permission of the central government. “We started exporting limited quantities of crude oil to Turkey a few days ago,” Seerwan Abubaqr, an adviser to the KRG’s natural resources ministry, told AFP.
He said the crude was being exported to Turkey so it could be refined into various products
before being brought back to northern Iraq.
“If we need to, we will export oil to Iran,” Abubaqr added. “We will continue exports of crude oil until the central government provides the region with oil products. The central government has pushed us to do this.”
The latest rift adds to the tension between Baghdad and Ankara, which also includes a political dispute over Turkey’s refusal to extradite fugitive Iraqi Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi, who is currently on trial in absentia on charges that he ran a death squad.
However, Turkey’s Energy Ministry has started technical work with Baghdad on shipping crude oil from Basra in southern Iraq via the Kirkuk-Ceyhan pipeline to Turkey’s Mediterranean coast and on to world markets. “The primary goal is to increase the capacity of the Kirkuk-Yumurtalık crude oil pipeline, and we have extended the agreement for 15 years,” Yıldız said July 6.
IRAQ, PAKISTAN INK GAS DEAL
BAGHDAD – Agence France-Presse
Iraq initialled a gas exploration deal with Pakistan Petroleum yesterday, a senior official said, the first of three successive contracts aimed at increasing the country’s oil and gas reserves.“ We are now initialling a contract between the Iraqi oil ministry and Pakistan Petroleum,” said Abdul Mehdi al-Amidi, the head of the ministry’s contracts and licensing department.