Iraq urges Turkey to halt ‘smuggling’ of oil form Kurdish north

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By Shaymaa Adel

Azzaman, December 2, 2013

Deputy Prime Minister Husain al-Shahristani has met Turkish ambassador to Baghdad Farouk Qamakjau to discuss the issue of oil smuggling to Turkey from the Kurdish north.

They reviewed “ways to boost bilateral relations and how to solve the issue of oil smuggling via Turkish frontier,” said a government statement faxed to the newspaper.

Iraqi Kurds, who enjoy full autonomy, have developed several oil fields in their region and say they now produce nearly 400,000 barrels of oil a day.

Domestic needs of the three Kurdish provinces of Arbil, Sulaimaniya and Dahouk, making up their semi-independent enclave, is estimated at 100,000 barrels a day.

But Shahristani, the statement said, the Kurds were not allowed to export oil on their own and urged Qamakjau to convey to his government Baghdad’s demand to see an end to the smuggling of Kurdish oil.

“Oil and gas are the property of all Iraqis as it is stipulated in the constitution and the party in charge of oil exports and collection of royalties is the central government” in Baghdad, the statement quoted Shahristani as telling Qamakjau.

Shahristani is in charge of Iraq’s energy sector and supervised the ministries of oil and electricity.

The Kurds say they are building a pipeline to ferry their oil to Turkey and currently using a fleet of fuel tankers for the same purpose.

Shahristani said Baghdad understood that Turkey was in need of energy to fuel its growth.

However, he added: “Iraq is ready to support and stand by Turkey because it realizes that the growth it is witnessing is in need of energy.”