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Iraq and Turkey must reach a deal with the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) first in order to export oil from the Kirkuk fields in northern Iraq via Turkey, Kurdish officials told local media this week.
Around 300,000 bpd of crude oil previously pumped and exported in the Kirkuk province have been shut in since the Iraqi federal government moved in last October to take control over the oil fields in Kirkuk from Kurdish forces.
Before Baghdad seized control of the oil fields, the Kurdistan Region was exporting the crude oil via the Kurdish-operated pipeline to the Ceyhan port on the Turkish Mediterranean coast.
Earlier this week, Iraq’s Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi visited Ankara, where he discussed many issues, including oil exports via Turkey, with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdo?an.
According to the Kurdistan 24 outlet, the two leaders reportedly reached an initial deal to sell Kirkuk’s crude oil via Turkey, possibly through a new pipeline closer to the Syrian border that would cross only a small portion of land controlled by the KRG.
Kurdish officials, however, argue that Turkey and Iraq will need first to strike a deal with Kurdistan before proceeding with plans to export Kirkuk’s oil.
“It is in the best interest of Baghdad to resume the export of Kirkuk’s oil through the Kurdistan Region’s pipeline as they would benefit more from the revenue than the KRG,” Rebwar Talabani, the head of the Kirkuk Provincial Council (KPC), told Kurdistan 24. According to the Kurdish official, it is ‘unrealistic’ to think that Iraq’s federal government could export oil from Kirkuk via the Nineveh province because security and safety concerns persist in the area.
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“Turkey and Iraq cannot take any steps regarding Kirkuk’s oil export without first reaching an agreement with the Kurdistan Region. The oil pipeline is completely under the control and protection of the Kurdistan Region,” Bewar Khinsi, an adviser on natural resources to the Kurdistan Region Security Council (KRSC) Chancellor, Masrour Barzani, said.
Last week, KRG’s Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani said that exporting Kirkuk’s oil via Turkey was at the top of the agenda for the talks between Kurdistan and Iraq.
Currently, fields controlled by KRG export around 350,000 bpd via the pipeline to Ceyhan, roughly half its capacity, industry sources told S&P Global Platts last week.
By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com
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Tsvetana is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing for news outlets such as iNVEZZ and SeeNews.