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 Iraqi Kurdistan begins oil exports to Turkey

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Iraqi Kurdistan begins oil exports to Turkey  8.7.2012  

Iraqi Kurdistan border with Turkey. Photo: UKS
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Kurdistan starts trucking exports of oil to Turkey

July 8
, 2012

ERBIL-Hewlêr, Kurdistan region 'Iraq', — Iraqi Kurdistan has begun sending oil produced in its Kurdish autonomous region out of the country without the express permission of the central government in Baghdad, an official said on Sunday, AFP reported.

The central government in Baghdad, meanwhile, insisted that it reserved the sole right to export oil, which accounts for the lion's share of the country's income and is at the centre of a dispute between the capital and Kurdistan.

The export of oil will be via tankers for now until the government builds an export pipeline, AK News reported. Two sources said that trucks had begun transporting crude oil from Kurdistan over the border to Turkey on Thursday, reported the Telegraph. Erbil and Ankara agreed to build an export pipeline, which could be operational in 2013 to transport oil to Turkey.

Turkish Prime Minister Receb Taib Erdogan said in Brazil: "Iraq’s government halted exporting oil derivatives and fuel to the Kurdistan Region. Thus they asked for fuel and we agreed.

"We started exporting limited quantities of crude oil to Turkey a few days ago," Seerwan Abubaqr, an adviser to the Kurdistan government's natural resources ministry, told AFP.

He said the crude was being exported to Turkey so it could be refined into various products before being brought back to Kurdistan.

"If we need to, we will export oil to Iran," Abubaqr added. "We will continue exports of crude oil until the central government provides the region with oil products."

"The central government has pushed us to do this."

Kurdish officials say the central government has barred the dispatch of petroleum products to the northern region, but the oil ministry in Baghdad has persistently denied those allegations.

"Nobody has the right to export oil, gas, or oil products to foreign countries," said Faisal Abdullah, spokesman for Hussein al-Shahristani, deputy premier responsible for energy affairs.

"Only the oil ministry of the government in Baghdad has the right to export oil or oil products."

A dispute over oil between Baghdad and the Kurdish government in Erbil has worsened in recent months, with Kurdistan looking to ramp up oil production and export capabilities, and the region has also cut off oil exports to Iraq in a payment row.

Erbil has signed dozens of contracts with foreign oil firms aimed at boosting its oil sector in recent year, but the central government, which says all oil contracts must go through Baghdad and regards any that do not as illegal, has strenuously opposed such deals.

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