“But we need to think about finding a way to get that oil and gas to the world market,” Photo: AP
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – Iraq’s Kurdistan Region can become a reliable source of energy for Europe, the autonomous enclave’s Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani said in a meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
“The Kurdish government and Iraq can play together an important part in providing energy for Turkey, Germany and other European countries,” said Barzani, who met with Merkel at the Global Conference for Energy Security in Berlin.
“Exploration for oil in Kurdistan is continuing,” Barzani said in a speech at the conference. “But we need to think about finding a way to get that oil and gas to the world market,” he added.
The Kurds, who gained autonomy after the 2003 US-led invasion that toppled Iraq’s dictator Saddam Hussein, are locked in a serious row with the Arab-led central government in Baghdad over oil exploration and exports.
The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) has signed several oil exploration deals with foreign companies, which Baghdad refuses to recognize, saying only the central government is empowered to enter such agreements.
On the same grounds, Baghdad also opposes oil export agreements signed by the enclave, which is keen to supply energy-hungry Turkey, and get to international markets through its northwestern neighbor.
In his speech, Barzani said that Iraqi oil and gas is also in need of a better way of reaching global markets.
“The amount of untapped oil and gas discovered since 2007 can become a future source of energy for Europe,” Barzani said.
“By finishing the construction of an oil pipeline in 2019, the region can export more than three million barrels of oil daily, which means an increase in Iraq’s oil revenue,” the premier noted, adding that an improvement in Iraq’s economy would contribute to national stability.
He also told German officials that his government is working to solve its disputes with Baghdad “through dialogue and adherence to Iraq’s constitution.”
Another one of the KRG’s disputes with Baghdad is over disputed energy-rich regions, such as Kirkuk, which is claimed by both sides.