File photo shows tanker trucks waiting to be loaded at Taq Taq oil field in the Iraqi city of Erbil.
Fri May 24, 2013 6:31AM GMT
The Iraqi government has vowed to take legal action against companies that export crude oil from the semi-autonomous Kurdistan region to Turkey.
Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister for Energy Affairs Hussein al-Shahristani said on Friday, “Any oil that is taken out of the country and payments not made to the Iraqi people through the central government is considered to be taking Iraq’s national wealth.”
“There are a number of means the Iraqi government is considering, and any responsible government would have the same priority to protect the wealth of the people,” Shahristani stated.
Crude exports from the Taq Taq oil field in the Kurdistan region to Turkey’s port city of Mersin have risen to more than 40,000 barrels per day (bpd). The exports, which began in early January, are expected to hit around 60,000 bpd by the end of June.
Ties have soured between Turkey and Iraq over the energy relations between Ankara and the Kurdistan Regional Government.
Shahristani also said Baghdad might take legal action against Ankara over its energy deals with Kurdistan, signed on April 3. The Iraqi official added that exporting oil to Turkey from Kurdistan was an act of smuggling that violated the Iraqi law.
On March 29, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Ankara was negotiating the terms of an energy deal with Kurdistan.
Erdogan defended the deal as a “win-win” agreement for both Turkey and the Kurdistan Regional Government, claiming that the region had the right to use part of its energy resources with whichever country it wanted.