News / Middle East

Turkey, Iraqi Kurdistan Clinch Major Energy Pipeline Deals

FILE - Kurdistan RaKurdistan Regional Government Natural Resources Minister Ashti Hawrami (R) shakes hands with Turkey's Energy Minister Taner Yildiz during a joint news conference in Arbil, about 350 km (217 miles) north of Baghdad, May 20, 2012.
FILE - Kurdistan RaKurdistan Regional Government Natural Resources Minister Ashti Hawrami (R) shakes hands with Turkey's Energy Minister Taner Yildiz during a joint news conference in Arbil, about 350 km (217 miles) north of Baghdad, May 20, 2012.
Reuters
Iraqi Kurdistan has finalized a comprehensive package of deals with Turkey to build multi-billion dollar oil and gas pipelines to ship the autonomous region's rich hydrocarbon reserves to world markets, sources involved in talks said on Wednesday.

The deals, which could have important geo-political consequences for the Middle East, 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.

Such a relationship would have been unthinkable just a few years ago, when Ankara enjoyed strong ties with Iraq's central Baghdad government and was deep in a decades-long fight with Kurdish militants on its own soil.

But Turkey imports almost all of its energy needs and growing demand means it faces a ballooning deficit, making the resources over its southeastern border hard to ignore.

During a visit to Istanbul last week 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, sources involved in the talks said.

“It is official and it is historic,” a source close to the deal said. “For years, Turkey has deliberately avoided getting involved in northern Iraq but now it is the beginning of a new period. It was a bold but a very necessary move.”

Turkey's courtship of Iraqi Kurds has infuriated Baghdad - which claims sole authority to manage Iraqi oil and says Kurdish efforts towards oil independence could lead to the break-up of Iraq. It has also raised concern in Washington.

Under Iraq's constitution, all oil export revenue goes through Baghdad. The autonomous Kurdish region is entitled to 17 percent of the total, a windfall that has helped it flourish as a prosperous oasis safe from the violence that consumed the rest of Iraq in the decade since a U.S.-led invasion.

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.

Turkey has repeatedly said it respects Baghdad's sensitivities and will not take any steps that would further deepen the long-standing dispute between the Arab-led central government and the Kurdish-run enclave.

Pipeline for heavy oil

Kurdistan has struck deals with firms including U.S. oil giant ExxonMobil, Chevron and Total as it seeks to develop its energy industry.

Ankara has set up the Turkish Energy Company (TEC), a state-backed entity which has struck partnership deals with Exxon and will be Turkey's counterparty in dealings with Kurdistan.

A first KRG-sponsored oil pipeline, which is almost complete, will link up to an existing Iraq-Turkey pipeline and begin carrying Kurdistan's oil to world markets from December, sources familiar with the project say.

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.

But as Kurdish output grows, with several new fields coming online this year and next, a second pipeline will be needed.

“The second pipeline will be mainly for the heavy oil that will come from the northern fields. Taq Taq and Tawke crude is very high quality and blending the two grades would depreciate the value of both crudes,” the source close to the deal said.

Turkish state pipeline company Botas will be instrumental in building the second pipeline, a government source said. A private Turkish company is also interested 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. The exports will be metered independently, he said, inviting all parties including Baghdad to send auditors to observe the process.

Revenues will be paid into KRG accounts, a source familiar with the plans said. Hawrami has repeated the KRG's readiness to send 83 percent of the income to Baghdad after deducting the autonomous region's share. Baghdad views such plans as illegal.

“The KRG says this oil belongs to all Iraq and they are happy to share it. There is also a bit of a hope that the reality on the ground will force Baghdad to make a deal on this,” the source said.

Gas deal

While oil has been the focus of attention, Turkey's interest in OPEC member Iraq is also due to its rich gas reserves.

Turkey is set to overtake Britain as Europe's third biggest power consumer in a decade and is hostage to expensive Russian gas. It also buys natural gas from Azerbaijan and Iran and liquefied natural gas from Algeria but is looking to diversify.

With the new pipeline from Kurdistan, Turkey will be able to import at least 10 billion cubic meters (bcm) per year of Kurdish gas more cheaply than from current suppliers, sources said, with its total capacity potentially up to double that.

“Turkey's existing infrastructure is almost ready for this tie-up. Northern Iraq will build its own pipeline, but Turkey could be instrumental here as well and Botas could play a role,” the government source said.

A gas purchasing agreement between TEC and Kurdistan is expected to be signed in December, sources familiar with the project said. Construction of the pipeline and gas processing plants, anticipated to cost billions of dollars, could start next year, with the first flow of gas targeted for early 2017.

Anglo-Turkish firm Genel Energy, headed by former BP chief executive Tony Hayward, is expected to be the first company to export gas to Turkey from its Miran and Bina Bawi fields, which contain sour gas.

Shipping the natural gas to European markets through a link to the Azeri-controlled Trans-Anatolian natural gas pipeline (TANAP) is another option, a second government source said.

You May Like

How to Safeguard Your Mobile Privacy

As the digital world becomes more mobile, so too do concerns about eroding privacy and increased hacking More

'Desert Dancer' Chronicles Iranian Underground Dance Troupe

Film by Richard Raymond is based on true story of Afshin Ghaffarian and his friends More

Obesity Poses Complex Problem

Professor warns of obesity’s worldwide health impact More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam Wari
X
Katherine Gypson
May 25, 2015 1:32 AM
For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.
Video

Video On Film: How Dance Defies Iran's Political Oppression

'Desert Dancer' by filmmaker Richard Raymond is based on the true story of a group of young Iranians, who form an underground dance troupe in the Islamic Republic of Iran. This is the latest in a genre of films that focus on dance as a form of freedom of expression against political oppression and social injustice. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Turkey's Ruling Party Trying to Lure Voters in Opposition Stronghold

Turkey’s AK (Justice and Development) Party is seeking a fourth successive general election victory, with the goal of securing two-thirds of the seats in Parliament to rewrite the constitution and change the country's parliamentary system into a presidential one. To achieve that, the party will need to win seats in opposition strongholds like the western city of Izmir. Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.
Video

Video Scientists Testing Space Propulsion by Light

Can the sun - the heart of our solar system - power a spacecraft to the edge of our solar system? The answer may come from a just-launched small satellite designed to test the efficiency of solar sail propulsion. Once deployed, its large sail will catch the so-called solar wind and slowly reach what scientists hope to be substantial speed. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video FIFA Trains Somali Referees

As stability returns to the once lawless nation of Somalia, the world football governing body, FIFA, is helping to rebuild the country’s sport sector by training referees as well as its young footballers. Abdulaziz Billow has more from Mogadishu.
Video

Video With US Child Obesity Rates on the Rise, Program Promotes Health Eating

In its fifth year, FoodCorps puts more than 180 young Americans into 500 schools across the United States, where they focus on teaching students about nutrition, engaging them with hands-on activities, and improving their access to healthy foods whether in the cafeteria or the greater community. Aru Pande has more.
Video

Video Virginia Neighborhood Draws People to Nostalgic Main Street

In the U.S., people used to grow up in small towns with a main street lined by family-owned shops and restaurants. Today, however, many main streets are worn down and empty because shoppers have been lured away by shopping malls. But in the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria, Virginia, main street is thriving. VOA’s Deborah Block reports it has a nostalgic feel with its small restaurants and unique stores.

VOA Blogs