Turkey Aims to Sign Oil & Gas Deals with Kurdistan

Source: Reuters 5/22/2013, Location: Middle East

Turkey is looking to sign commercial contracts this year with Russian and U.S. companies operating in northern Iraq for joint oil and gas exploration, Turkey's Energy Minister Taner Yildiz told Reuters.

Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan last week discussed U.S. concerns about Turkey's deepening energy ties with Iraqi Kurdistan during meetings in Washington with President Barack Obama.

Minutes before his departure for Washington, Erdogan announced that a Turkish company already had a contract in place with U.S. energy company Exxon Mobil but declined to provide details until after the visit.

Yildiz, who was in Erdogan's delegation, said the discussions with Obama and his team were very positive and fruitful.

"We are likely to be involved with Russian and American companies in northern Iraq for different projects like oil and gas exploration. And this year, state-owned and private companies could sign commercial contracts with northern Iraq," he said in an interview.

He declined to name companies.

Exxon was the first to sign up for exploration deals with the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG). Others including Chevron, Total and Russia's Gazprom Neft have followed.

Iraqi companies operating in the northern region could also take part in such partnerships, which will involve three or four partners, Yildiz said.

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.

Baghdad views deals between oil companies and the KRG as illegal while leaders of the autonomous Kurdish region say their right to control oil resources is enshrined in Iraq's federal constitution, drawn up following the U.S.-led invasion of 2003.


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