x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Turkey says Kurdish oil will flow, but vows to abide by Iraqi constitution

Discussions to connect Kurdish oil to global markets via a Turkish pipeline.

Hasan Merat Mercan, the Turkish deputy minister of energy and natural resources. Delores Johnson / The National
Hasan Merat Mercan, the Turkish deputy minister of energy and natural resources. Delores Johnson / The National

Turkey has repeated its pledge to honour the Iraqi constitution while proclaiming that “oil will flow” from the Kurdish region regardless.

Turkey is in a delicate position as it facilitates discussions between the Kurdish region and the Iraqi federal government over a new pipeline to connect Kurdish oil to global markets through a Turkish port. The pipeline became operational this month in spite of Baghdad’s opposition to independent exports of Kurdish oil, which it says is produced under contracts that violate the Iraqi constitution.

“Oil will flow because the world markets will demand it,” Hasan Merat Mercan, the Turkish deputy minister of energy and natural resources, said at the Gulf Intelligence UAE Energy Forum in Abu Dhabi yesterday. “The internal dynamics of KRG [Kurdistan Regional Government] and Iraq is their own issue and we will help them to solve their problems. Political stability in that region is the most important issue. Don’t expect me to say anything that would endanger the relationship between KRG and Iraq.”

The outcome of the talks will be closely watched by UAE operators in Iraq’s Kurdish region, including Dana Gas of Sharjah, Abu Dhabi National Energy (Taqa), and DNO International, which is part-owned by RAK Petroleum.

The disagreement escalated on Sunday, when the Iraqi prime minister Nouri Al Maliki threatened to take away the Kurdish slice of the federal budget if it pursued exporting via the pipeline, which has already loaded cargoes that are now waiting at Ceyhan.

“Turkey must not interfere in an issue that harms Iraqi sovereignty,” Mr Al Maliki told Reuters. “This is a constitutional violation.”

Mr Mercan repeated Turkey’s pledge to not release Kurdish oil without reaching an agreement with Baghdad.

“Turkey fully agrees to abide by the constitution of Iraq,” he said. “Whatever the constitution says, Turkey will have to honour this.”

ayee@thenational.ae