8 Nisan 2011 Cuma

Iraqi asks Ankara for oil mediation

Monday, September 27, 2010

Turkish Energy Minister Taner Yıldız (L) shakes hands with his Iraqi counterpart Hussein al-Shahristani in Baghdad on Sept. 19. AA photo

Turkish Energy Minister Taner Yıldız (L) shakes hands with his Iraqi counterpart Hussein al-Shahristani in Baghdad on Sept. 19. AA photo
Contracts signed between international oil giants and the Kurdish regional government in northern Iraq need to be reviewed and approved by the central government, according to the deputy chairman of Iraq’s parliamentary committee on oil and gas.

“The central government is of the opinion that these deals are not compatible with the constitution, as they were signed without [Baghdad’s] approval,” Iraqi parliamentary member Abdul Hadi Hassani told the Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review on Monday on the sidelines of the “Iraq Future Energy 2010” summit held in Istanbul.

Hassani’s statement shows there is yet no solution to the oil dispute between northern Iraq and the Baghdad government, even if Western oil companies sign deals with the Kurdish administration to develop fields in the provinces of Arbil, Suleimaniya and Dohuk. The issue has crucial importance for Turkey, too, as the Kirkuk-Ceyhan pipeline carries about a quarter of Iraq’s total crude oil exports.

Iraq, which currently produces about 2.4 million barrels of crude oil per day, has the world’s fourth largest oil reserves.

The two-day Istanbul meeting was attended by Thamir Al Ghadban, the advisor to the Iraqi prime minister, Michael Townshend, the chief of BP Iraq, and Baroness Nicholson of Winterbourne, executive chairwoman of the Iraq-Britain Business Council, or IBBC.

“According to the Iraqi constitution, Iraqi resources belong to the whole country,” Hassani said. “A reconciliation between the parties should be researched on economic, technical and legal grounds, rather than political. Also, transparency is crucial for oil deals. The central government has to ratify the contracts signed between the Kurdistan Regional Government [KRG] and foreign companies, for the best interest of all parties.”

Hassani voiced satisfaction with Turkish Energy Minister Taner Yıldız’s Sept. 19 assurance to Iraqi Oil Minister Hussein al-Shahristani that Turkey “will not allow any exports of KRG oil to pass through its infrastructure without the approval of Iraq’s central government.”

Furthermore, he said Turkey could play a key role in solving the problem. “Turkey’s best interest lays not in KRG but in the whole of Iraq,” Hassani told the Daily News, adding that Turkey could even act as a mediator between the two parties on the issue.

Baghdad is not currently holding talks with KRG since “they are not willing” to have such talks, according to Hassani. “We are waiting for the new government to start talks with the KRG. I hope they understand the binding hydrocarbon and revenue laws,” he said.

While Iraq’s oil production stands at around 2.5 million barrels per day, the official target for 2017 is 12 million barrels. Some say the timetable for Iraq’s plans to increase production is highly ambitious, while others say it is a realistic and accurate assessment of the country’s capabilities.

“It is in the interest of Iraq and the world economy to increase Iraq’s oil production to more than 10 million barrels per day,” said Dr. Ali Hussain, an independent oil consultant.

“I am on the side of optimization, not maximization,” Hassani told the Daily News. “If you start producing more than the market needs, storing the oil becomes more costly than the actual production and there is no sense in that.”

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