Turkey blamed for interruption of Iraqi oil exports via its territory

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By Nidhal al-Laithi

Azzaman, April 22, 2014

Turkey is meddling in Iraqi affairs and is using the pipeline via its territory to exert political pressure on the government in Baghdad, a consultant with close ties to the Iraqi Oil Ministry said.

The consultant, who asked not to be identified, said it was wrong to blame the stoppage of the pipeline totally on “saboteurs or terrorists.”

 There are fears, he added, that Ankara might use the flow of waters from the Tigris and Euphrates as a tool for political and economic gains.

Relations between Baghdad and Ankara are at low ebb as the countries take different views on the conditions in Syria and the mushrooming oil industries in the semi-independent Kurdish region in the north.

The closure of the twin pipeline via Turkey, which used to carry up to 20% of the country’s oil exports, is leading to losses of billions of dollars for Baghdad. The line has been shut for over two months.

The pipeline is aging but it still can carry 600,000 barrels a day of its original capacity of 1.5 billion barrels daily.

The Kurds developed their own oil fields and constructed a pipeline to link them to export terminals in Turkey.

But there have been no Kurdish oil shipments to international markets so far with Baghdad insisting that matters related to oil development and exports are to be solely handled by the central government.

The sides are holding talks but have failed to reach a compromise, prompting Baghdad to stop paying Kurds their share of oil royalties.