Kurdistan Region's Minister of Natural Resources, Ashti Hawrami.
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – The Kurdistan Region’s minister of natural resources, Ashti Hawrami, announced plans for a new pipeline to connect the region’s oil and gas to Turkey and the world market.
“The second pipeline would have a capacity of at least 1 million barrels per day (bpd) and would be completed within the next 18-24 months,” Reuters quoted Hawrami as saying.
The Kurdistan Region sits on an estimated 45 billion barrels of oil and the Iraqi constitution gives the Kurds the right to extract and export their oil to the world market, given that the revenue is shared with the central government in Baghdad.
Kurdish authorities find neighboring Turkey the ideal gateway to the world, especially through the Ceyhan port on the Mediterranean Sea, where the Kurdish oil will end up once the pipelines are finished.
“The Iraqi government strongly opposes Kurdistan’s independent plans to build oil pipelines into Turkey,” said Hussein Shahristani, Iraq’s deputy prime minister for energy affairs and former minister of oil.
Shahristani said in a statement on Thursday that, “Turkey is aware of Iraq’s concerns and absolute rejection of that plan.”
The Iraqi government has opposed the pipeline and most of Kurdistan’s oil deals with foreign companies, fearing that economic independence will drift the three northern provinces away from Iraq and towards a possible independent state.
The statement from Shahristani added that Turkey had promised to honor its agreement with Baghdad and that “they wouldn’t allow the export of Kurdish oil without the consent of the Iraqi government.”