THE LEVANT – A seventh tanker filled with northern Iraqi oil has departed from the southeastern Turkish port of Ceyhan, Turkish Energy Minister Taner Yildiz announced on Monday.
This brings the number of barrels of oil transferred via pipelines from Iraq to Turkey to 7.8 million.
Relations between Irbil and Baghdad have been strained by disputes over the sale of northern Iraqi oil through Turkey. Turkey and the KRG have stated that the flow of northern Iraqi oil to international markets would continue despite Iraq’s appeal for international arbitration demanding an immediate halt to the sales.
“Oil flow stopped from Iraq temporarily for repairs, but within a few days oil could be pumped up to Turkey again,” Yildiz said during a press conference in Ankara.
“Both private and public agreements with Iraq continue. We transfer Iraqi oil and the income will be shared as Iraqi constitution establishes.”
Yildiz did not clarify neither the buyer’s idendity nor the destination of the oil tanker.
Oil export from the northern Iraqi regional government to Turkey’s Ceyhan port started on May 22 and Turkey has transferred 6.5 million barrels of Iraq oil to international markets.
The total storage capacity of Ceyhan is about 2.5 million barrels and Turkish officials say they have to load the oil when the facilities reach full capacity.
The northern Iraqi oil flows through a KRG-built-pipeline, which connects Iraq to the Turkish pipeline at the Turkish border, and it is sold through Turkey’s Mediterranean port of Ceyhan.
There has been seven shipments of nothern Iraqi oil from the port of Ceyhan so far, and only one of the tankers had been able to deliver its cargo to the buyer.
Turkish and Kurdish officials have denied identifying the buyer but the revenue of this sale, USD 93 million, has been deposited at Halk Bank, a Turkish lender.
The Turkish energy minister declared that all revenues of the sales will be kept for both Kurdish and Iraqi governments, of which the Kurdish side will recieve at least 17 percent according to the Iraqi constitution.
The United Kalavrvta tanker, which is carrying a $100-million cargo of oil shipped from northern Iraq to USA, was barred from discharging its cargo to a port in Texas upon a US court decision late July. The ship still awaits off the coast of Texas in Gulf of Mexico without delivering its cargo.
The international oil market players refrain buying “disputed Kurdish oil” since Iraqi government threathens buyers with legal action and US energy officials declared that they are against KRG’s “one sided decision to sell oil to international markets.”
Iraq holds the world’s fifth largest known oil reserves with 143 billion barrels, of which the northern Kurdish regions hold 17 per cent.
Turkey expects cheaper prices for Iranian gas exports
Meanwhile, Yildiz announced that Turkey is willing to buy more Iranian gas if the price is right and they expect Turkey’s arbitration process with Iran to be finalized by the end of the year.
Turkey complains about the high prices and the lack of security for the energy supply from Iran which sporadically halts gas flow.
Turkey applied for arbitration on the cost of natural gas sales as Ankara considered the price of Iranian gas to be unfairly high. Turkey imports 10 billion cubic meters of Iranian gas per year, its second-largest supplier after Russia.