Iraq Says Turkey Backs Baghdad in Fight Over Kurdish Oil Exports

Turkey agrees to deal only with Iraq’s central government for all crude that the OPEC nation exports through a Turkish pipeline, the Iraqi prime minister said, days after Iraq’s self-governed Kurds, who ship their own oil via the same network, approved a referendum on independence.

The comments suggest the Turks may be reviewing their policy of letting Iraq’s landlocked Kurds export oil independently through the Turkish-controlled pipeline. Crude was flowing normally through the network on Thursday. The Kurds export less than 600,000 barrels a day, according to a tweet by the Kurdistan Regional Government’s Ministry of Natural Resources on Sept. 24.

Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim asserted his country’s support for “restricting oil exports to the federal authorities” in Iraq, he said in a phone call with his Iraqi counterpart, Haider Al-Abadi, according to an emailed statement on Thursday from Al-Abadi’s office in Baghdad.

Turkey, which has its own restive Kurdish minority, condemned the referendum for Kurdish independence from Iraq, which Kurds approved on Monday by an overwhelming vote. Turkey is both a customer and a conduit for Kurdish oil, yet its President Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned Monday that his country can choose to “close the valves” on oil exports from Iraq’s Kurdish region through the pipeline to the Turkish port of Ceyhan.

Iraq’s central government has long insisted that its crude-marketing agency SOMO has sole authority to export oil produced anywhere within Iraq’s borders. At the same time, the central government’s North Oil Co. has been shipping crude to Ceyhan through a Kurdish pipeline that connects with the Turkish link.
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