| ANKARA, April 4
ANKARA, April 4 Turkey would play an active role
in any arrangement in Iraq under which crude oil export revenues
are shared between the central government and the northern Iraqi
Kurdistan region, Energy Minister Taner Yildiz said on Thursday.
Yildiz told Reuters in an interview Turkey stood ready to
support an arrangement under which 83 percent of oil export
revenue went to Baghdad and the remaining 17 percent went to the
government of the autonomous Kurdistan region.
"There is nothing on this issue that would unsettle the
Iraqi central government," Yildiz said.
"Turkey would play an active role in giving the 17 percent
to northern Iraq and 83 percent to the Iraqi central
Oil lies at the heart of a long-running feud between the
central government and the autonomous Kurdistan region. Baghdad
says it alone has the authority to control exports and sign
contracts, while the Kurds say their right to do so is enshrined
in Iraq's federal constitution.
The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) started on the path
towards economic independence early this year by exporting small
volumes of crude oil by truck to Turkey.
The move further angered Baghdad, which threatened action
against the region and foreign oil companies working there to
stop the exports, which it says are illegal.
Yildiz said he saw no obstacles to public or private firms
striking oil exploration deals with Kurdistan, but also said
Turkey would take part in oil exploration tenders if invited to
do so by the central government in Baghdad.
He said Turkey also stood ready to build a natural gas
pipeline in Iraq if requested by either Baghdad or Kurdistan.
Yildiz said Turkey's imports from northern Iraq changed on a
daily basis but reached a maximum of around 200-250 road tankers
a day. He said Turkey may increase annual oil imports from Iraq
as a whole to 4.0 million tonnes from a current 3.5 million.
KRG crude used to be shipped to world markets through a
Baghdad-controlled pipeline running from Kirkuk to the Turkish
port of Ceyhan, but exports via that channel dried up in
December due to a payment row with Baghdad.
The northern region is now pushing ahead with plans to build
its own oil export pipeline to Turkey, despite objections from
the United States, which fears the project could lead to the
break-up of Iraq.
Yildiz urged Iraq to provide more crude for the Ceyhan
pipeline and said Turkey would also support the idea of a new
pipeline from Iraq's southern Basra terminal to Ceyhan.
(Editing by Nick Tattersall and James Jukwey)