It is no secret, thanks to frequent leaks to the media, that energy cooperation between Turkey and the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) is continuing apace. This, however, has not broken the determination by both sides to maintain a low-key position on the subject. The sensitivity is due to strained ties between Baghdad, Ankara and Erbil over a number of issues, including the exploitation of northern Iraqi oil and gas.
The KRG has been demanding an independent say over the gas and oil in its region, arguing that Baghdad has not honored its pledge to give the Iraqi Kurds their rightful share of Iraq’s oil revenues. Baghdad denies this and has declared the KRG’s stance illegal and dangerous in terms of Iraq’s territorial integrity.
Baghdad has also accused Turkey of endangering Iraq’s territorial integrity through separate energy deals with the KRG, and has US support on this point. This, however, has not prevented energy cooperation between Turkey and the KRG. Turkish officials say if the United States is concerned, it should first convince the American oil giants Exxon and Chevron, who have also signed deals with the KRG.
An exclusive Reuters report this week, citing unidentified official sources, also showed that Turkey and the KRG are pushing ahead with “a comprehensive package of deals” in the energy field. This package, reportedly agreed on during last week’s visit to Istanbul by KRG Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani, includes multibillion-dollar oil and gas pipelines between Turkey and northern Iraq.
According to the Reuters report, these will enable the KRG to export some 2 million barrels per day of oil to world markets, and at least 10 billion cubic meters of gas to Turkey annually when completed. The first pipeline is almost ready and should be pumping oil by the end of December. The next stage will be to pump northern Iraqi gas by pipeline as of December 2016. The technical details for a pipeline that will carry heavy oil between northern Iraq and Turkey are also said to have been mapped.