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Turkey eyes rights to Iraqi gas field -minister

Iraqi Kurdish energy exports through Turkey not ruled out.

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October 15, 2010 10:55 by



State-owned Turkiye Petrolleri (TPAO) is keen to win the rights to operate an Iraqi gas field at an auction this month because of the commercial and strategic value, Turkish Energy Minister Taner Yildiz said on Thursday.

Iraq will tender contracts for gas fields at Akkas in the western desert, Mansuriyah near the Iranian border and Siba in the southern oil hub of Basra at an Oct. 20 auction.

TPAO is one of 13 companies that qualified for the tender. The three fields together have estimated reserves of 11.23 trillion cubic metres, and winning bidders will be allowed to export surplus gas.

Yildiz, speaking to reporters at a briefing, declined to say for which field TPAO may bid.

“TPAO is keen on the Iraq gas fields, and we could take a more aggressive stance on pricing, if we consider both a commerical and strategic approach,” he said.

The Ankara-based company is part of a consortium headed by Russia’s Gazprom that won a deal to develop Iraq’s Badrah oilfield in December.

Separately, the energy minister did not rule out Iraqi Kurdish energy exports through its territory.

Iraqi Oil Minister Hussain al-Shahristani last month said Turkey had agreed to import fuel supplied only by the central government, signalling that Turkey would bar Kurdish exports.

“We don’t have an agreement that no separate pipeline will be built,” Yildiz said. “However we respect Iraq’s unitary state structure and territorial integrity and we will be careful.”

Any dispute over rights to develop hydrocarbons between the semi-autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government and the central government should not impact efforts to procure natural gas from Iraq for the planned Nabucco pipeline project to Europe.

The planned $11 billion Nabucco project envisages carrying 31 billion cubic metres of gas after flows begin in 2015.

Nabucco partners RWE of Germany and Austria’s OMV have signed gas agreements with Kurdish authorities.

“Undertakings by companies like RWE and OMV to find a source and procure gas for Nabucco should not be impeded,” Yildiz said.

He said that Iraq has said in the past that it could supply 15 bcm of gas for Nabucco.

Turkey is also interested in joining any pipeline project to export Iraqi oil via a northern route as more production comes onstream in the coming years, Yildiz also said.

Iraq already sends about 500,000 barrels, or a quarter of its total exports, through the Kirkuk-Ceyhan pipeline, which terminates on Turkey’s Mediterranean coast.

(Editing by Anthony Barker)



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