Crude oil from Iraqi Kurdistan has started flowing via a new pipeline to the Turkish Mediterranean export hub of Ceyhan but will not be shipped to world markets without the consent of Baghdad, Turkish Energy Minister Taner Yildiz said on Thursday.
He said he hoped a deal could be reached this month to allow the exports to begin.
Turkey signed a multi-billion-dollar energy package late last year with Iraqi Kurdistan (KRG), which will see the rich hydrocarbon resources of the semi-autonomous region independently exported via Turkey.
The move infuriated Baghdad, which claims the sole authority to manage Iraqi oil, but Turkey has been working to get the central government on board before exports start.
“The flow of crude oil from Iraq has begun. It is being stored. It will not be exported without the consent of the Iraqi government,” Yildiz told a news conference.
The Turkish-KRG deal has enormous significance for major oil companies as well as for the Kurds and Turkey, which can benefit in domestic supply and onward westward export through Ceyhan.
Yildiz visited Baghdad in early December for talks with Iraq’s Deputy Prime Minister Hussain al-Shahristani, who has long opposed Turkey’s courtship of the Kurdish region.