Iraqi Kurds, Baghdad gov’t set to discuss energy deals
ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
'The ball is now in the court of northern Iraq and the central Iraqi government and I hope they reach agreement and give us good news,' Turkish Energy Minister Taner Yıldız says. AA photoIraqi Kurdish officials are set to visit Baghdad in the coming days to discuss oil revenue sharing and metering, a move precipitated by Turkey’s urging of the autonomous region to enter into talks with the central government on the issue of hydrocarbon resources.
“The ball is now in the court of northern Iraq and the central Iraqi government and I hope they reach agreement and give us good news,” Turkish Energy Minister Taner Yıldız said in a speech yesterday. An agreement over oil exports and revenue sharing could be reached this month, he added.
His comments came after talks the minister held in Baghdad and Arbil following tension which had mounted between Turkey and Iraqi government over a pipeline which could begin pumping oil exports to a Turkish port from the autonomous Kurdish region this month and over a series of trade deals on energy recently signed between Turkish Energy Company (TEC) and Iraqi Kurds.
Tension between Baghdad and Ankara has calmed down at the moment as Minister Yıldız assured Iraq’s Deputy Prime Minister Hussain al-Shahristani and Minister of Oil Abdelkarim al-Luaybi at a two and a half-hour meeting that Turkey did not intend to “implement” any energy deals without consent of the Iraqi central government.
In his talks with Iraqi officials, the minister stressed that Turkey wanted to move the process forward while respecting the country’s sovereignty and incorporating Baghdad into the process, according to the sources.
The Iraqi side insisted Turkey should not start the shipping of oil from northern Iraq without “consensus” with Baghdad, implying that Iraq was not ruling out cooperation on energy projects, but would react if Baghdad was “bypassed”, a source familiar with the recent talks held by Yıldız in Baghdad and Arbil told the Hürriyet Daily News.
Baghdad reproached the Kurdish administration for a “lack of consultation” over the issue. Iraqi officials cited a promised visit by Prime Minister of Iraqi Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) Nechirvan Barzani to Baghdad, at which the Iraqi Kurds had announced they would inform the central government about the energy projects discussed with Turkey, that was yet to take place.
Travelling to Arbil, Yıldız urged Nechirvan Barzani for immediate talks with Baghdad in a bid to remove question marks and agree on a formula for revenue sharing and metering. Iraqi Kurds are eager for talks in order to convince Baghdad to start carrying oil to Turkey through a newly extended pipeline, while Turkey keeps up telephone diplomacy to ensure a meeting between Iraqi Kurds and central government.
A trilateral mechanism had not been institutionalized yet, but Turkish officials would get involved in bilateral talks between the central government and Iraqi Kurds whenever parties asked for it, the source said.
Meanwhile, Iraqi Oil Minister Abdul Kareem Luaibi shared the optimism of the Turkish minister of energy. “There are some meetings that will be held to set the measures,” Luaibi said, at a briefing ahead of an OPEC meeting in Vienna. Technical, trilateral talks would take place within days to finalize details over the revenue sharing and metering.
The central government would retain control over the oil revenue, which would be shared with the Kurds, he noted.