US, Turkey on same page in defeating ISIL, says top energy official
Merve Erdil ISTANBUL
US Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz. DHA PhotoThe United States and Turkey have a shared interest in defeating the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and the two countries will keep together to crack down on ISIL’s oil smuggling, said U.S. Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz.
“This is one of the areas in which we and the Turks have considerable overlapping in our strategic view. We are systematically reviewing how to halt the flow of oil within and out of ISIL-controlled territory and we certainly welcome the recent steps taken by Turkey, one of our partners in this effort, to crack down on oil smuggling,” he told daily Hürriyet during his Turkey visit to attend the Atlantic Council’s Sixth Energy and Economy Summit.
The military actions being taken have substantially degraded ISIL’s capacity to produce and refine oil and this would continue, he said.
“With Turkey, we obviously share the same objectives in terms of ISIL and also of the need for a political transition in Syria’s leadership. Those do kind of go together. Turkey has been certainly taking steps to crack down on oil smuggling. We and Turkey are on the same page and we’ll keep together. Their production is down,” he said.
ISIL makes $1 million day by smuggling oil via Turkey and Iraq, according to speculations.
Iraq has ‘tremendous potentials’
Moniz also mentioned Iraq has tremendous potentials for energy and the latest deal between Baghdad and the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) is of great importance in realizing these potentials.
“Iraq, as a whole, has tremendous potential for further increasing their oil production. That production and its export should be according to the constitutional processes in Iraq. And the step taken between Baghdad and Arbil earlier this week is a very positive one, at least the first step of an agreement in terms of oil revenue and national budget sharing with Arbil. We are encouraged by that,” he said.
The governments of Iraq and the KRG have begun implementing a deal under which Baghdad resumes funding Kurdish civil servant salaries in return for a share of Kurdish oil exports, Iraq’s finance minister said on Nov. 19.
The accord aims to reduce friction between Baghdad and Kurdish authorities as they face a common threat from ISIL insurgents who have seized large parts of the north and west of the country.
Under the agreement reached last week, Kurdish authorities committed to pump 150,000 barrels per day of oil, around half their overall shipments, to Iraqi government export tanks in the Turkish port of Ceyhan.
“Turkey obviously plays an important role here, as does the U.S. We’ll keep working together. That constitutional framework is the way in which to work all of this out,” Moniz said.
US on road of being huge LNG exporter
He also noted the diversification of supply is one of the critical elements of energy security that is true for Turkey and for Europe.
“In that context I would go back and emphasize that the projects, such as bringing Caspian gas west, are very important. Ultimately developing eastern Mediterranean sources could provide further diversification,” he said, adding the first liquefied natural gas (LNG) export would start by the end of 2015 or early 2016.
“We do not have any export facilities operating at the moment. So these have to be built. I would guess by 2020 we would be significant exporters. Most economists think eventually we would reach levels at least comparable to what Qatar, the largest LNG exporter today, currently exports,” he said.