Turkey is the only viable route for KRG oil

Turkey is the only secure and feasible route for transfering oil from Iraqi Kurdistan to Europe according to energy experts.

Turkey is the only secure and feasible route for transfering oil from Iraqi Kurdistan to Europe according to energy experts.

By Selen Tonkus, Oguzhan Ozsoy

ANKARA - Turkey is the only secure and feasible route for transferring oil from Iraqi Kurdistan to Europe according to energy experts.

Iraq`s Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) is expected to have more than 45 billion barrels of oil - the largest untapped oil reserves in the world. The KRG is to export its oil to meet its own energy demand, while becoming a major player in the regional and global energy sector.

Energy experts from Turkey and the KRG told Anadolu Agency (AA) that Turkey emerged as the only viable corridor due to its geographical proximity, stability and security.

"Iran could be alternative to Turkey, if the negotiations between Iran and the US lead to an end of the embargo," Dr. Sardar Aziz, a Kurdish journalist and researcher focused on the KRG oil policy and Turkey-KRG relationship, said.

“The KRG is more inclined to use Turkey, for both political and logistical reasons,” Aziz added.

Aziz also pointed to the abundant natural resources in the Kurdish region of Syria, saying Turkey could end up being the only corridor for both the KRG and Syrian Kurdistan once the situation in the country stabilizes.

Energy expert Shwan Zulal noted that the KRG had no other options but Turkey.

“Iraq has the Basra port and is planning to build a pipeline through Jordan to the Red Sea but still in the planning phase. Even if there is an agreement between Baghdad and the KRG...the KRG`s oil will flow through that way does not make any sense because of bottlenecks and lack of adequate capacity,” Zulal said.

Zulal added, “It is up to Turkey now to decide what to do. If Turkey is willing to have Kurdish crude flowing, it will happen, otherwise the current state of affairs will remain.”

- A global project -

Turkish experts believe that the oil export project between Turkey and the KRG is vital for Europe`s energy security.

Erdal Tanas Karagol, Economy Director at the Ankara-based SETA Foundation said, supply security is the most important aspect of the energy project.

“An oil agreement between Turkey and the KRG is a global project that will have repercussions not only for the domestic markets of both countries, but also for Europe,” Karagol said.

He added that the world’s largest energy companies competed for shares from the KRG’s energy reserves, and added, “Some circles do not want Turkey to be a player in such a huge project.”

Ali Semin, from Istanbul-based think tank BILGESAM, said, “The KRG needs Turkey to realize its goal of being an active participant in the global energy sector.”

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki`s government, however, would prefer to see the project fail, Semin said.

The KRG started to sell oil to Turkey from the Taq Taq oil field, near Kirkuk, in January 2013. The central administration in Baghdad, in a bid to control oil revenues, opposed the supplies claiming it violated the Iraqi constitution. The KRG did not withdraw its demands, saying that it could never get its 17 percent share from the Iraqi budget.

In November 2013, Turkish and KRG officials signed an agreement that would enable Kurdish oil to flow from Taq Taq to the Ceyhan port on Turkey`s south-eastern Mediterranean coast. The agreement allows Iraqi Kurdish oil to be stored and exported at times when no oil is pumped by the central Iraqi administration.

Baghdad, however, says the agreement would violate the constitution had the oil not been exported via Iraq`s national oil company (SOMO).

Currently, 400,000 barrels of oil are stored in Ceyhan while awaiting Baghdad`s approval to be exported, the Turkish Energy and Natural Resources Ministry said on February 12.

Irbil and Baghdad have carried out a series of meetings to reach an agreement on the issue.

The Iraqi constitution states that the country`s oil and gas is owned by “the people of Iraq in all regions and governorates.”

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