Sevim Songün Demirezen Hürriyet Daily News
Turkey should secure a place for itself in both the northern and southern oil and gas fields of Iraq since its energy future is inextricably linked with its southern neighbor, despite frequent recent friction, sector representatives have said.
“If there is energy somewhere, then it has to flow somewhere else. You can’t escape that fate,” said Mehmet Öğütçü, the head of Global Resources Corporation, implying that fuel drilled in Iraq would be transported outside the country regardless of political or economic obstacles.
Speakers at yesterday’s “Natural Gas as the Game Changer” roundtable meeting organized by the Marmara Group Foundation predicted that Iraq would have a significant place in the natural gas bus sector in the coming years.
“Iraq will be producing around 19 billion cubic meters of natural gas by 2035, which means it will become the fifth or sixth biggest producer in the world,” said Tahir Uysal, a partner at Silso Oil.
Turkey should not only conduct energy investments in northern Iraq, but should also pursue ties in the southern part of the country as well, he told the Daily News on the sidelines of the meeting.
He said Turkey should consider using northern Iraq’s gas rather than transporting it to Europe in the long term. Uysal also suggested that Turkey should follow a balanced energy policy between northern Iraq and Baghdad.
However, it has not been easy for Turkish companies to work in the northern and southern parts of Iraq at the same time. In this respect, Pars Kutay, head of government and public affairs at the Ankara-based Genel Energy, said Genel wanted to enter the southern Iraqi market but were put on a Baghdad blacklist because the company is already operating in northern Iraq.
“Around 30 billion cubic meters of natural gas may come from northern Iraq in the next 10 to 20 years. Iraq’s gas reserves are estimated to be 3.5 million cubic meters. Some 85 percent of these reserves are thought to be located in northern Iraq,” said Kutay.
“There are certain companies in northern Iraq, but we will see purchasing there, and international companies will be entering there,” said Kutay. “If Turkey does not develop a timely policy, then probably in five to 10 years we will be discussing how to transport the oil and gas that is retrieved by mainly American companies from northern Iraq,” he said.
The central Iraqi government, which has accused the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in the north of “oil smuggling” due to its direct trade with international firms, recently said it would sue Genel over its oil sales to Turkey.
A southern Iraq research license for Turkey’s Petroleum Pipeline Corporation (BOTAŞ) was also recently canceled with no discernable reason.
Turkey, which has an energy policy dependent on imports, cannot resist such an import potential, said Kutay.
A Foreign Ministry official, however, underlined the necessity of Baghdad and Arbil finally agreeing on long-awaited laws on hydrocarbons and revenue-sharing.
Ayşe Berris Ekinci, deputy head of the Energy, Water and Environment Affairs Department at the Foreign Ministry, said both laws should be settled, otherwise it would not be possible for the country to produce 12 million barrels of oil a day.
The future, as well as the contributions of BOTAŞ and the Turkish Petroleum Corporation (TPAO), was also discussed at the meeting.
Öğütçü told the Daily News that Turkey should have an integrated giant company which works like a private company in the energy sector so that it can perform dynamically in international markets.