Turkey’s Energy Minister has said Turkey was ready to sell Kurdish oil to international markets from its export hub of Ceyhan.
“Our storage tanks in Ceyhan for Northern Iraqi oil are now full. There is not any obstacle for the sale. This oil belongs to Iraqis and they are the ones who will sell that,” Taner Yildiz was quoted as saying by Turkish newspaper, Today’s Zamam, in Istanbul.
Officials from Baghdad, Arbil and Turkey will oversee sales of Kurdish oil from Ceyhan and revenues will be channelled to the country’s state-owned Halk Bank, he added.
The announcement suggests the long-running dispute between Iraqi Kurdistan’s regional government and the central government in Baghdad could be close to a resolution, although there were no announcements from Baghdad or Arbil.
Turkey had previously refused to sell the oil while the two administrations worked out a deal over the distribution of revenues from sales but the storage facilities at Ceyhan were close to reaching their 2.5m barrels capacity.
Baghdad has been locked in a spat with the autonomous region over the Kurds’ right to export the oil without going through Baghdad.
Kurdistan has been autonomous since 1991 but it relies on good relations with Baghdad in order to receive its share of the national budget.
The bitter dispute led to the central government refusing to pay Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) workers earlier this year and has delayed approving the annual budget.
Iraq’s Oil Minister Abdul Kareem Luaibi has said he expected a deal to be reached soon.
Baghdad wants to boost its exports to Ceyhan in Turkey to more than a million barrels a day by building a second pipeline to the city.
“We are building a pipeline in Iraq,” Luaibi told Reuters in April. “I believe the daily oil flow will exceed 1 million barrels a day when that line is completed. I hope it happens this year.”