By John Lee.
Iraqi Kurdistan has finalized a comprehensive package of deals with Turkey to build multi-billion dollar oil and gas pipelines.
Reuters reports that the deals could see Kurdistan export some 2 million barrels per day (bpd) of oil to world markets and at least 10 billion cubic meters per year of gas to Turkey.
During a recent visit to Istanbul by Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) prime minister Nechirvan Barzani, both sides agreed on the fundamentals of the deals and mapped out technical details for a second oil pipeline and a gas route from Iraq's north to Turkey.
The Kurds say all of Iraq will benefit if they develop their region's own resources. But Baghdad fears that if the Kurds obtain separate export capacity they will seek independence.
A first KRG-sponsored oil pipeline will link up to the existing Iraq-Turkey pipeline and should begin carrying oil from December.
The existing pipeline from Kirkuk to Turkey's Mediterranean port of Ceyhan is currently carrying only a fraction of its 1.6 million barrels per day (bpd) capacity, and could in theory pump up to 700,000 bpd of Kurdistan's oil.
The second pipeline will be mainly for the heavy oil from fields such as Taq Taq and Tawke. Turkish state pipeline company Botas will be heavily involved in the project.
The new pipeline will have a capacity of at least 1 million bpd of crude oil, KRG natural resources minister Ashti Hawrami said in Istanbul last week.
(Sources: Reuters, Washington Post)