ISTANBUL (Reuters) - Iraq’s northern Kurdistan region plans to complete a second new oil export pipeline to Turkey within the next two years as it ramps up its output independently of Baghdad, the region’s natural resources minister said on Thursday.
Speaking at an industry conference in Istanbul, the Kurdistan Regional Government’s (KRG) Ashti Hawrami said the second pipeline would have a capacity of at least 1 million barrels per day (bpd) and would be completed within the next 18-24 months.
He said ultimately the Kurdistan region aimed to be producing 3 million barrels per day of oil for export.
“Once our production rises we will need expansion. So we have plans for a new pipeline,” he said. “We hope to complete this pipeline in the next 18 months to 2 years.”
Turkey has increasingly courted Iraqi Kurdistan as it seeks to boost involvement in oil and gas, a move that has upset the central government in Baghdad, which says it alone has the authority to control oil exports from Iraq.
Six more oil fields will come online in the region by the end of the year, boosting its oil output capacity to 400,000 barrels per day (bpd) from 300,000, Hawrami said.
Around 100,000 bpd of that total was for domestic use, with the remainder trucked via Turkey to export markets, an arrangement he said was not sustainable in the long term.
“We will continue to do that until the (first) pipeline is completed. Once the pipeline is completed our production will very quickly rise,” he said.
Hawrami said the KRG would begin monitoring its output once the first new pipeline to Turkey is opened. He said that line would link to the existing Kirkuk-Ceyhan export pipeline and would make use of its spare capacity.
“Fortunately there is a lot of spare capacity in this pipeline (Kirkuk-Ceyhan) and we will use the spare capacity,” he said.
Editing by Nick Tattersall