Turkey won’t interfere in internal Iraqi oil row: Energy minister
Turkish Energy Minister Taner Yıldız meets with the board members of the Turkey Construction Material Industrialists’ Association (İMSAD) after answering questions from reporters. AA PhotoTurkey has encouraged Baghdad and Arbil to reach a solution on the mechanisms for pumping Iraqi Kurdish oil to world markets via Turkey, the latter’s energy ministry has said, taking heed of Iraq’s warning over the exports.
“We will not be engaged in a business violating the [Iraqi] Constitution. We would not [act in violation] of Iraq’s integrity and sovereignty,” Energy Minister Taner Yıldız said on Jan. 14, answering reporters’ questions ahead of a meeting with the board members of the Turkey Construction Material Industrialists’ Association (İMSAD).
“This is an internal problem of our Iraqi brothers and Turkey is the safest way if the oil to be extracted from the south or north of Iraq is offered to the world market,” he said. “If oil is going to come, we will transport it.”
The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) last week said crude had begun to flow through its independent pipeline to Turkey, and that exports were on track to begin at the end of this month, rising in February and March.
In an interview with Reuters on Jan. 12, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki threatened to cut the Kurdish region’s 17 percent share of the federal budget if exports via the pipeline went ahead without central government consent.
Yıldız also underlined that Turkey was currently importing more oil from Iraq than it was buying from Iran, saying he “hopes Turkey’s Iraqi brothers would not overlook that.” “Could you say our relationships are bad? We have a remarkable trade volume.”
He also said the KRG-Turkey oil alliance would benefit all Iraqi people.
Al-Maliki dubbed the KRG-Turkey deal a constitutional violation which they “will never allow, not for the Kurdistan region, nor the Turkish government.”
“Turkey must not interfere in an issue that harms Iraqi sovereignty,” he said.
“The Iraqi government holds Turkey legally responsible on this subject and reserves the right to demand resultant losses,” Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister for Energy Hussain al-Shahristani said.
The minister also responded to reporters’ questions about some local media reports claiming the Baghdad government had begun changing some pipeline plans slated to pass through Turkey in retaliation for the Kurdish oil exports.
Iraq’s State Oil Marketing Organization (SOMO) will alter the routes of five pipelines set to export Iraqi gas to global markets from Turkey to Israel and Syria, daily Akşam claimed in a report published Jan. 14.
“Are you going to transport oil through today’s Syria? That pipeline would not operate even for a day,” Yıldız said.
“They can steer [oil] through Israel or Syria but we promise a stable country,” he the minister said. “We are respectful of other projects, but we are interested in projects that we do.”
In response to Baghdad’s warning, the KRG said Jan. 13 that a delegation led by Kurdish Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani would soon head to Baghdad to discuss the issue, which stems from a fundamental, longstanding disagreement over how to manage Iraq’s resources and divide the proceeds.
Gov’t ‘to hide’ oil discovery
Energy Minister Taner Yıldız has said the government will not share the results of the study regarding oil discovered by state-run TPAO in the eastern province of Şırnak on the Iraqi border, in order to prevent accusations of exploitation ahead of the coming local elections.“Even if we find oil, we won’t say,” Yıldız said. Turkish state-run petroleum company announced high-gravity oil discovery on Jan. 13