Kirkuk-Ceyhan Pipeline Accord to be Extended

Turkish Minister of Energy and Natural Resources Taner Yildiz said Tuesday his country sought to renew the Kirkuk-Ceyhan oil pipeline accord with Iraq before it expires on March 30, 2010.

Turkey and Iraq are likely to reach agreement on the extension of the accord for another 20 years soon, the minister said in an address to ninth Turkish International Oil and Gas Conference and Showcase which started here earlier in the day and will conclude on Wednesday.

Negotiating teams of both sides are putting the finishing touches to new deal, Yildiz said, noting that the Iraqi side favored renewal for 15 years only.

The pipeline which carries oil from Kirkuk, north Iraq, to the Turkish Mediterranean port of Ceyhan, is the largest pipelines crossing Turkey.

It can carry up to 1.5 million barrels a day, almost a quarter of Iraq's daily exports, but it has failed to reach its total pumping capacity since it went operational in late 1980s.

Since the ouster of the former Iraqi regime in March, 2003, Turkey has been trying to help the Iraqi authorities to enhance the pumping rate of the pipeline but the sabotage activities of the Iraqi insurgents pushed down the daily pumping rate to less than 250,000 barrels.

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