Turkey has offered a mechanism to transfer northern Iraqi petrol to Turkey and left the petrol revenue share issue between the Iraqi central government and Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) to those two parties, Turkish Energy Minister Taner Yildiz has said Today`s Zaman reported.
Yildiz has dismissed claims that Turkey is making a move against the unity of Iraq by getting petrol from northern Iraq; on the qute contrary, he says, the move will help facilitate the normalization of relations between the KRG and central government. "It is a serious guarantee for Iraq's unity to transfer its petrol or natural gas through Turkey," Yildiz told members of the Diplomacy Correspondents Association (DMD) on Friday.
"Each of the energy agreements that Turkey makes with the Iraqi government and all contracts with the Kurdistan Regional Government will help establish a mechanism to share the petrol revenues," stated Yildiz. He said the petrol revenue sharing system currently in place in Iraq is not working.
Considering the increase in volume of petrol being transported by the Kirkuk-Yumurtalik pipeline, Taner said what should be understood is that the relationship between the KRG and central Iraqi government is being normalized. The resources minister of the KRG has said that his administration wants to build a second link with Turkey and targets production of 3 million barrels of oil per day for export.
The second link is expected to run parallel to the Kirkuk-Ceyhan pipeline administered by Baghdad. Kurdish-built pipelines, by offering a route to Western markets that bypasses the national infrastructure, may encourage the KRG to seek greater independence from Baghdad, with which it has been at loggerheads over oil-production contracts and revenue sharing.
"Turkey is a state of law, and whatever it does will be lawful. There will be customs and every barrel of oil will be counted. This information will be shared with the Iraqi government," said Yildiz. He added that the petrol revenues belong to the Iraqi government and how they are distributed is up to the Iraqi people and the Iraqi constitution.
Turkey would put payment for the KRG petrol in a Turkish state bank and keep it there. Both the KRG and Baghdad administrations would be able to see the bank account activity.
Asked what the Iraqi government's position on this is, Yildiz said that this is Turkey's proposal and that Baghdad officials have heard it and conveyed their concerns. "We are aware of the Iraqi government's concerns. The deal has not yet been finalized," he said.
The energy minister added that it is possible they could establish an international committee of observers made up of officials from the Baghdad administration, KRG and Turkey to track the petrol exported from Iraq.
"We need to be open and transparent. We are neighbor countries and brothers," Taner said.
"There is a petrol agreement between the Turkish Petroleum Corporation [TPAO] and the Iraqi central government which is worth $5.5 billion in four different regions in Iraq. I note that the press does not show much interest [in those agreements regarding the wells in the south of Iraq TPAO concluded with the central government]," Yildiz said. Yildiz was referring to the petrol regions in the south of Iraq and asked why petrol in the south is not discussed as much as that of the north if the issue is about Iraq's unity. Yildiz said he discussed the proposal with Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Hussain al-Shahristanmi during a visit to South Korea last month but added that nothing had been finalized. He also said Turkey was in talks with the KRG about joint exploration on 13 oil and gas blocks.
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is set to meet with Massoud Barzani, the leader of northern Iraq's autonomous Kurdish government, in the southeastern city of Diyarbakir today. When asked about this meeting, Yildiz said: "This meeting is about peace and brotherhood. It is not about energy deals with the Iraqis." This meeting between Barzani and Erdogan takes place at a time when political ambiguity has been largely transcended in northern Iraq, and when normalcy has replaced the tension which used to define the Baghdad-Arbil axis.
International Energy Agency meeting in İstanbul
When speaking to the DMD correspondents, Yildiz also announced that Turkey, for the first time, would be the head of the International Energy Agency (IEA) for two years. "It is a serious success in terms of matured policies in Turkey," he stated. Yildiz also said that in 2017 the World Petroleum Congress would be held in İstanbul and hosting this congress would make a great contribution to Turkey's energy sector.
Closing of prep schools
When asked about the ruling Justice and Development Party's (AK Party) plan to abolish educational institutions that assist high school students prepare for the national university admission examination, Yildiz said that education should be enjoyed equally by all and this should be guaranteed by the state. "It is not right if some students feel alienated because they do not have enough money to pay to attend prep schools. To have equal rights is important," said Yildiz.