Iraq said Turkey agreed to deal exclusively with its central government over exports of Kurdish crude oil, a step that could disrupt shipments from the independence-seeking Kurd region.
Turkey supports Iraq's control over all crude that the OPEC nation exports through a Turkish-controlled pipeline, the Iraqi prime minister said Thursday. The comments suggest the Turks may be reviewing their policy of letting Iraq's landlocked Kurds export oil independently through the same 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 from Al-Abadi's office in Baghdad.
The semi-autonomous Kurds voted Monday overwhelmingly in favor of a referendum on independence from Iraq. Turkey, with its own restive Kurdish minority, condemned the referendum, which is non-binding. 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 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.
Crude shipped from fields controlled by North Oil Co. and by the KRG was flowing normally through the entire pipeline network, according to a person familiar with the matter, asking not to be identified because the information is confidential. Iraq is the second-biggest producer in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries.