Turkey and Iraqi Kurds have agreed to finalize a comprehensive energy deal, pending a visit by Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani to Baghdad to convince the Iraqi capital to grant its consent.
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Barzani held a three-hour meeting yesterday with the participation of Turkish Energy Minister Taner Yıldız, discussing a schedule to seal energy deals, which include a pipeline from the Kurdish region of Iraq to Turkey that is ready to begin carrying oil.
Although the Iraqi Kurdish side is ready to seal the energy deal, Ankara opted to first request Baghdad’s consent amid recent rapprochement between Turkey and Iraq’s central government, a Turkish official told the Hürriyet Daily News yesterday. Ankara-Baghdad ties have long been strained, particularly due to the energy cooperation between Turkey and the KRG..
The pipeline, which will connect to an existing Kirkuk-Yumurtalık pipeline, is projected to carry up to 300,000 barrels per day (bpd). Turkey also plans to conduct energy deals with the KRG on the joint exploration of 13 oil and gas blocks. Some of these contacts will be carried by the Turkish Energy Company (TEC), which was set up by Ankara to be Turkey’s counterpart in dealings with the KRG, and/or with the partnerships of private companies. TEC will be the partner with a third party in six of the blocks.
However, Baghdad has opposed many such deals, saying the KRG’s unilateral moves could result in the division of Iraq.
In a bid to respond to Baghdad’s concerns, Turkey proposed a formula that aims to deposit oil and gas money in a Turkish state bank in accordance with the agreed share of 83 percent to the Iraqi central government and 17 percent to the KRG. The amount of oil would be measured by a joint commission that would also include an official from the Iraqi government.
In a recent statement, Yıldız conveyed the formula to Iraqi Oil Minister Hussain al-Shahristani, saying Ankara would continue to discuss the proposal with Iraqi officials, including Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.
Barzani announced on Nov. 25 that he would visit Baghdad this week to give further details regarding the Kurdish-Turkish pipelines.
“I will be visiting Baghdad to talk about the project. I will try to explain it in more detail and hopefully reach an understanding in a way that can benefit all Iraqis,” said Barzani.