KRG oil agreement among Turkey’s current problems

01.02.2014 – Hemin Khoshnaw – BasNews, Erbil – Several political analysts believe many of the current problems encountered by the Prime Minister of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, are due to the export of oil from the Kurdistan Region to Cihan Port. Other disagree, however, noting that Turkey has no other option.

In recent years, Turkey has undergone significant economic development. The development has in turn increased the demand for oil and natural gas. But unlike before, Turkey can no longer rely on what were its two main sources of energy – Russia and Iran. Russian gas has become more expensive, whereas Iran has been hit hard by sanctions from the international community on its export of energy resources.

According to statistics released by the Turkish Ministry of Energy, Turkey needs 650,000 barrels of oil per day to meet demand, and yearly the country requires US$45-46 billion cubic meters of natural gas, of which only 11 percent is consumed in Istanbul. Thus, Turkey’s energy needs have pushed Erdogan to find a reliable source that is able to fulfill its demands.

Bayram Bozyel, a Kurdish politician and former vice chair of the Rights and Freedoms Party (HAK-PAR), told BasNews that, “Turkey is obliged to buy oil from the Kurdistan region because sanctions on Iran have not been removed yet and Russian oil is expensive. The best option for Turkey right now is the Kurdistan region, which, at the same time, will boost Kurdistan’s market.”

Boyzel noted that Turkey has to talk to the U.S. to try and convince them to get the federal government of Iraq to agree on the oil pipeline from the Kurdistan region to Turkey. Boyzel said this is not only an economic case, but a political and strategic case as well.

Regarding the problems currently facing Erdogan over Turkey’s oil agreement with the Kurdistan region, Boyzel stated that, “Not all the problems facing Turkey these days are related to this agreement. Turkey’s relations with the U.S. at the moment are strained because of Syria, Iran and Egypt.”

“Turkey is buying weapons from China, and there is some talk about Turkey becoming a member in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. While Erdogan is making visible moves towards the east, the west has not completely given up on him,” Boyzel explained.  

According to information obtained by BasNews, the agreement between the Kurdistan region and Turkey has not been signed by the ministries of energy and oil on both sides, but between Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani and Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan, which means Erdogan is insisting on this agreement despite the internal and external pressures on him to not go through with it. Mohammed Kaya, head of the Social Investigation Center in Dijla, told BasNews that attempts are being made to distract Erdogan with internal problems and keep him from dealing with external affairs.  

“Erdogan’s bloc has done many important things since they came to power – the peace process and solving the Kurdish issue being one of them. But there are attempts by some people to pressure him to change the direction of his policy,” Kaya explained. Kaya acknowledged that the issues pertaining to the oil pipeline from Kurdistan through Turkey is not simple because there are many internal and external problems threatening to hinder the process.  

“Turkey has not solved its problems with Iraq, Syria and Iran yet. In addition to this, Turkey wants to run from any problems that could emerge between Turkey and the U.S. Therefore, they must negotiate with the KRG, the federal government of Iraq and the U.S.,” Boyzel noted. Prof. Wahab Joshkon, a Dijla University lecturer in Turkey, noted that both the federal governments of Iraq and the U.S. are concerned about Turkey’s oil and natural gas agreement with the KRG.  “It is not going to be easy for Turkey to give up this agreement with the KRG. But in order to not face further problems with the oil and natural gas agreement with the KRG, Turkey has to be able to count on both the federal government of Iraq and the U.S.” Kaya said.