Turkey ‘should not miss’ Iraqi sources

Turkey ‘should not miss’ Iraqi sources

ARBIL - Hürriyet Daily News
Turkey ‘should not miss’ Iraqi sources

‘The resources are too important not to reach markets,’ said Hayward. DHA Photo

The top officials of the largest Anglo-Turkish energy company in northern Iraq have warned Turkey not to lag behind in tapping the natural resources in northern Iraq.

“There is a huge opportunity in northern Iraq. Turkey should not miss this opportunity,” Mehmet Sepil, the president of Genel Energy, told the Hürriyet Daily News yesterday while visiting Arbil for the Kurdistan oil and gas conference. Despite fierce disagreement between Arbil and Baghdad on the management of the natural resources in northern Iraq, top officials of the company expressed confidence that Kurdish oil and gas will reach markets. “At the end of the day, big oil always finds its way,” said Tony Hayward, the CEO of Genel Energy.

“The journey will be bumpy, but the inevitability is there. The resources are too big and too important not to reach markets,” he said, when asked about the consequences of the tension between Arbil and Baghdad.

The oil and gas conference is taking place amid fierce tension between Baghdad and the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG). Arab Iraqis are suspicious of the autonomous rights enjoyed by the KRG, and KRG oil policy is seen as being at the crux of the dispute.

Most of Iraq’s oil reserves are located in the south of the KRG region, which is estimated to hold more than 40 billion barrels of oil as well as extensive gas reserves. To Baghdad’s fury, the KRG has been offering exploration contracts to companies without Baghdad’s approval. The KRG is now seeking to export its oil and gas through Turkey, and the KRG energy minister announced last year that oil and gas pipelines would be built to Turkey.

The Turkish government seems to have given the green light to the KRG’s export efforts, but has not yet made an official agreement. The opening of the conference was attended by the deputy energy minister, Selahattin Çimen, representing Turkish Energy Minister Taner Yıldız. “Turkey’s political presence at this level both at the beginning and the end of the conference is indicative of Turkey’s interest in the energy resources in the region,” an energy expert told the Daily News.