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Oil Flow on Iraq-Turkey Pipeline to Rise Within Months

Source: Reuters 11/7/2013, Location: Middle East

Crude oil flow through the Kirkuk-Ceyhan pipeline linking Iraq to Turkey could rise by up to 200,000 barrels per day (bpd) in a few months with the completion of technical work at a pumping station, a senior Turkish energy official said.

"We have been involved in the works to modify the pumping station on the northern Iraqi side for some time," Metin Kilci, undersecretary at the Turkish Energy Ministry, told Reuters.

"We could see the results in a few months. There should be an increase of around 100,000 bpd to 200,000 bpd," he said.

The decades-old pipeline carrying Kirkuk crude to Turkey's Mediterranean port of Ceyhan is poorly utilised as its pumping capabilities have been damaged by dozens of bomb attacks.

The pipeline has a capacity of up to 1.6 million bpd of crude but Iraqi oil officials say it can only handle pumping pressure that could carry a fraction of that amount.

Leaks and attacks have caused severe disruption to exports from Kirkuk. In August, Turkey asked Iraq to protect the pipeline after it was bombed half a dozen times in a month.

Kilci said Turkey was also working with northern Iraq's semi-autonomous Kurdistan region to find common ground in a critical revenue sharing dispute between the Arab-led government in Baghdad and the Kurdish-run enclave.

Officials and sources involved in talks between Turkey and the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) told Reuters this week a package of deals including new pipelines to export Kurdish oil and gas via Turkey had been finalised.

Turkey's courtship of Iraqi Kurds has infuriated Baghdad, which claims sole authority to manage Iraqi oil and says Kurdish moves towards oil independence could bring the break-up of Iraq.

Kilci repeated Turkey's position that it will respect the Iraqi constitution in its dealings with Kurdistan.

Turkey is planning to import at least 10 billion cubic metres a year of northern Iraqi gas and the first flow is expected by early 2017, the sources have said.

Once those imports start, they could be linked up to the Azeri-led Trans Anatolian Natural Gas Pipeline (TANAP) and quickly fill up its capacity, Kilci said.

"We could consider increasing our stake in this project as TANAP's capacity will be well utilised because of gas coming from different sources," he said.

Construction of the TANAP pipeline, which will be built from the Turkish-Georgian frontier to Turkey's western border with either Greece or Bulgaria, is expected to start at the end of 2013.

TANAP is due to start carrying 16 billion cubic metres of gas a year from Azerbaijan's Shah Deniz II offshore field from 2018. The total could eventually rise to as much as 60 bcm.

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