US urges talks for energy in East Med
ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily NewsThe United States has called for continued dialogue between Turkey and the relevant parties in exploring energy resources both in the Eastern Mediterranean as well as in Iraq.
Carlos Pascual, the U.S. special envoy, called for dialog among parties on the potential resources that are yet to be explored in the Eastern Mediterranean, at the Atlantic Council Summit in Istanbul.
Discoveries of significant amounts of gas around Cyprus have brought with them political problems, as Turkey raised objections about exploration and ownership rights before a political settlement was reached on the divided island. Strains in Israeli–Turkish relations further complicated the transport of gas to a European market via Turkey, which experts agree will be the most commercial way.
It is too early to predict how Eastern Mediterranean gas will reach international markets according to Pascual, who said conversations between countries and companies would be critical to find the most commercially viable and politically acceptable solution.
Meanwhile Leonardo Bellodi, senior vice-president for public Affairs of ENİ said “things looked improved compared to a year ago,” when asked by the Hürriyet Daily News. Turkey had warned companies last year not to go ahead with exploration works in the Mediterranean or face consequences.
Also, Pascual used a softer tone compared to previous statements coming from US officials on the prospect of exporting oil from the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) to Turkey. “We encourage dialog between Iraq and Turkey on developing export strategies that maximize the amount of [Iraqi] oil reaching the world market,” said Pascual, emphasizing the importance of oil production in the “Kurdistan region of Iraq.” The US has been very critical about a possible deal between Turkey and KRG in the absence of consent from the central government in Iraq.
While Pascual mentioned the pipeline that has been constructed to carry KRG oil to Turkey, he said the region was at a sensitive point in time as talks among parties could prove to be an opportunity to come up with a deal that “will support the unity of Iraq and secure having more Iraqi oil reach international market.” Pascual praised the role played by Turkey in the positive political environment that came about following the exchanges of contacts between the energy ministers of Turkey and Iraq. “The U.S. supports the positive environment and Turkey has been central for it to occur,” Pascual said.