Kurdistan to Resume Oil Exports Via Turkey

Source: The Wall Street Journal 1/29/2013, Location: Middle East

Iraq's semiautonomous Kurdistan region is planning to restart controversial exports of crude oil and condensate through Turkey in the first week of February 2013, the Kurdistan Regional Government said.

A long-running dispute between Baghdad and Kurdistan caused the KRG to halt exports of some 200,000 barrels a day via the Baghdad pipeline.

This month it emerged that small volumes of oil from Kurdistan were being trucked via Turkey, though these were halted while the KRG put in place mechanisms to monitor the exports.

"Next week we expect exports to restart," said Ashti Hawrami, the minister of natural resources for the KRG.

He said export volumes would amount to around 20,000 barrels a day of crude oil and 10,000 to 15,000 barrels a day of condensate. Kurdistan's current production capacity is between 350,000 and 400,000 barrels a day of crude oil, he said.

"That includes what we refine," he said. "Taking the refining out of it the 250,000 [barrels a day] that we were planning to export in 2013 that is readily available, it is just simply not going anywhere."

The minister declined to comment on recent talks between U.S. major Exxon Mobil Corp. XOM +0.71% and Baghdad as well as the KRG. Exxon faces losing its stake in a contract to develop a multibillion-dollar project in southern Iraq after upsetting Baghdad by signing a deal in 2012 with Kurdistan.

"It's business as usual as far as we're concerned," he said.

He also said the KRG is in advanced discussions with at least three "significant" oil companies that want to invest in Kurdistan.

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