Iraq and Turkey enhance energy links

Baghdad and Ankara reinforced energy links with a new agreement that will keep Iraqi oil pumping from the northern Kirkuk oil fields to Turkey’s Ceyhan terminal on the Mediterranean.

Meantime, Turkey’s state-owned Turkish Petroleum Corp. is negotiating to drill in the rich Rumaila oil field in southern Iraq as part of Baghdad’s drive to upgrade and expand its long-neglected oil industry.

The Turkish concern reportedly is prepared to drill 45 wells in Rumaila’s southern sector that could triple the field’s output to 2.8 million barrels per day. A deal could be signed by the fall.

All this enhances Turkey’s strategic ambition of becoming the key energy hub for Middle Eastern and Central Asian oil and gas moving westward to an energy-hungry Europe.

Negotiations for renewing the Kirkuk-Ceyhan pipeline agreement, which expires at the end of March, began in 2009 and were sealed this month by Iraqi Deputy Oil Minister Ahamd al-Shamma and Turkish Energy Minister Taner Yildiz.
The 625-mile pipeline, with two trunks, has a combined capacity of 1.6 million barrels a day. But it has been operating at around one-third of that because of disruption to Iraq’s oil output following the U.S. invasion of March 2003.

Iraq plans to boost its output of around 2.3 million barrels a day to 10 million-12 million within six years as its fields are upgraded by foreign oil companies under 20-year production licenses awarded in 2009.

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