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Kurdish energy focus on exports through Turkey

Genel, Gulf Keystone operating in Kurdistan with Turkish exports in mind.

By
Daniel J. Graeber

LONDON, Nov. 13 (UPI) -- Oil and natural gas developments in the Kurdish north of Iraq are moving in support of Turkish export deals, two companies announced Thursday.

Genel Energy, which has headquarters in London, said it reached an agreement with the Kurdish government to develop the Miran and Bina Bawi gas fields. It also agreed to pay $20 million to Austrian energy company OMV to take its 36 percent stake in Bina Bawi.

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"These agreements represent a win-win in the commercialization of Miran and Bina Bawi," Chief Executive Tony Hayward said in a statement.

For the Kurdish government, Hayward said, it unlocks both fields in support of a 2013 gas export deal to neighboring Turkey. For Genel, it lessens the risk for its gas business while giving it revenues from early oil production.

Development of the two fields is included under a single production sharing contract.

Combined, both the fields will deliver gross mean gas sales of 8.4 trillion cubic feet. Mean oil resources from Miran and Bina Bawi are estimated at 34 million barrels, Genel said.

Separately, Gulf Keystone Petroleum, also a London-based company, said it's on track to pull 40,000 barrels of oil per day from its Shaikan development in the Kurdish north by year's end.

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"All current production is being exported by truck and these exports are set to increase in the coming months," Chief Executive Officer John Gerstenlauer said in a statement.

Exports of natural resources are a source of contention between the central Iraqi government and the semiautonomous Kurdistan Regional Government. KRG says it has the constitutional right to exports, though Baghdad said all sales must move through state-controlled entities.

The dispute has lingered despite the forming of a new central government under Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi.

U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said during her regular press briefing Wednesday both sides were still negotiating in good faith.

"There are discussions about everything from oil revenues to payments that are ongoing," she said. "We hope it will be resolved soon."

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