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Turkey eyes oil in northern Iraq

The Turkish energy minister said it has agreements that permit oil exploration in Kurdish north.

By Daniel J. Graeber

ANKARA, Turkey, March 2 (UPI) -- Agreements with Iraqi administrations open the door for Turkish oil exploration in the Kurdish north, the Turkish energy minister said Monday.

"We have agreements with Baghdad and [the government in] northern Iraq," Turkish energy minister Taner Yildiz said. "In the frame of these agreements, we will explore for oil there."

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The minister offered no estimate of the reserve potential in targeted fields in the Kurdish north of Iraq, nor did he outline which companies would carry out the work.

Though suspended in response to payment rows with the Kurdistan Regional Government, British energy company Gulf Keystone Petroleum has shipped tens of thousands of barrels of oil across the border to Turkey.

Yildiz said the current economic climate would provide a net benefit to Turkish consumers.

"There can be an additional discount for Turkish people due to crude oil prices," he said.

Crude oil prices recovered from below the $50 per barrel mark in February, but have been unable to sustain a rally long enough to yield enthusiasm.

An insurgency waged by the group calling itself the Islamic State is creating economic burdens in its own right and the World Bank in January said it was the Kurdish revenue stream that was suffering the most as a result of the security situation.

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The announcement from Turkey comes as the federal government in Baghdad and the semiautonomous Kurdistan Regional Government work to solidify a late 2014 agreement on oil revenue and production.

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