Turkey is to sell an additional 4,000 tons of refined oil a day to Iraq in an attempt to ease the shortages caused by fighting, Turkish Energy Minister Taner Yildiz said Friday.
Sunni Muslim fighters led by the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant have seized large amounts of territory in Iraq since they captured the northern city of Mosul on June 10. They temporarily held the Baiji oil refinery, which is vital to the country’s fuel needs.
Disruption to oil production and distribution has seen long queues outside petrol stations across Iraq.
Yildiz told reporters Turkey would transfer the additional oil via the Habur border crossing into the Kurdish autonomous area of northern Iraq, which must first be upgraded to take the extra traffic.
Turkey currently sells 9,000 tons of refined oil daily to Iraq, Yildiz said. Much of it originates in Iraq but due to problems with bureaucracy and infrastructure problems Iraq does not have the capacity to refine sufficient crude oil to satisfy its domestic needs.
Speaking at the Bosphorus Energy Club in Istanbul, Yildiz emphasized that oil extracted from Kurdish territory belongs to Iraq. In November 2013, the KRG signed an agreement that would enable Kurdish oil to flow to the Turkish Mediterranean port of Ceyhan. In an argument over the control of oil revenues, Baghdad has insisted on a halt to the trade and asked for international arbitration.
According to the American Energy Information Administration, Iraq holds the world's fifth largest known oil reserves with 143 billion barrels. The KRG's territory is believed to have one of the largest untapped oil reserves in the world, with more than 45 billion barrels of oil according to some estimates.
Founded last year, the Bosphorus Energy Club consists of private and public representatives from the U.S., Britain, Russia, Ukraine, Yemen, Afghanistan, the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, Greece, Jordan and Kosovo.