(Adds pipeline plans, details, background,)
By Ayla Jean Yackley
ISTANBUL, June 5 (Reuters) - Iraqi Kurdistan aims to increase lift oil production to 2 million barrels per day (bpd) by 2019 and wants companies to build pipelines so the fuel can reach foreign markets, Energy Minister Ashti Hawrami said on Tuesday.
The semi-autonomous region expects output to reach 1 million bpd by 2015, Hawrami told a panel at a World Economic Forum meeting in Istanbul, but did not say which companies or projects would help it achieve those targets.
Output in Kurdish-run northern Iraq has fallen sharply to an estimated 50,000 to 60,000 bpd after exports were halted in March amid a dispute with the central government in Baghad over oil-revenue sharing.
“We think we can go to 2 million by 2019,” Hawrami said.
Another 1 million bpd from neighbouring Iraqi provinces could also flow through Kurdistan to export markets, he said.
The Kurdistan region, which has its own government and armed forces, has already clashed with Iraq’s central government over autonomy and oil rights, and halted its crude exports in April after accusing Baghdad of not making due payments.
The dispute is part of a broader political crisis in Iraq, where a fragile government composed of Shi‘ite, Sunni and Kurdish blocs is struggling to overcome deep splits over power-sharing.
“If Iraq is serious about reaching 8 million bpd of exports, at least 3 million of it will come from the north,” Hawrami said. “Within a couple of years there will be additional infrastructure to get the isolated crude of Kurdistan to market.”
The existing pipeline from Kirkuk’s oilfields to the Turkish port of Ceyhan has maximum capacity of about 1.5 million bpd, though only about a third of that flows through the aging link, often the target of attacks by insurgents in Iraq and Turkey.
Hawrami said his administration wants the private sector to build a new pipeline link that would solely carry the heavy crude extracted from Kurdish fields within two years.
“This is not an alternative to Kirkuk-Ceyhan, but additional capacity, and it is not really a pipeline to bypass current infrastructure,” he said.
Kurdistan aims to double export capacity by next year from the current 300,000 bpd or so and then lift it to 1 million bpd, he said.
Exports by the end of 2012 are seen at 175,000 bpd, the Kurdistan Regional Government has said.
As for natural gas, the Kurdish region will be ready to export it within a couple of years, Hawrami said.
Turkey will be the primary destination, and excess gas will be shipped on in whatever facilities exist, he said.
Turkish trade with the Kurdish region of Iraq is about $8 billion, but as energy exports increase, Kurdistan could become Turkey’s top trading partner, he said. (Editing by Hans-Juergen Peters; Editing by David Cowell)