Iraq has initialled a deal with Turkey to extend the use of the main pipeline linking its northern oilfields to the Mediterranean port of Ceyhan for 12 years, the oil ministry said on Thursday.
The renewal of the existing deal, which ran out in March, was the result of lengthy negotiations — Turkey had been seeking an extension of between 15 and 20 years, its Energy Minister Taner Yildiz said before the agreement expired.
“The agreement was signed (on Wednesday) by Iraqi Deputy Oil Minister Abdul Karim Luaibi and Turkish energy ministry deputy undersecretary Yusuf Yazar,” oil ministry spokesman Assem Jihad said.
“It is hoped that the final signature will take place between the Iraqi oil minister (Hussein al-Shahristani) and the Turkish energy minister in Baghdad within the coming days,” he added.
The 970-kilometre (600-mile) pipeline runs from Iraq’s northern oil hub of Kirkuk to Ceyhan, from where the crude is shipped to world markets by tanker.
The twin conduit, first inaugurated in 1976, carried 167.6 million barrels of oil last year, according to Turkish statistics.
It has been repeatedly sabotaged by Sunni Arab insurgents inside Iraq and by Kurdish militants inside Turkey.
In April, the pipeline was bombed in Al-Hadhar south of the main northern Iraqi city of Mosul, after Al-Qaeda’s commander for northern Iraq, Ahmed al-Obeidi, was killed in a joint US-Iraqi operation.
The pipeline was also sabotaged by insurgents inside Iraq on three separate occasions last October and November.