Feb. 20 (UPI) -- The Iraqi government said it wants to discuss with Turkey the potential for moving oil again from federal territory to a port on the Mediterranean Sea.
Asim Jihad, a spokesman for the Iraqi Oil Minister Jabar al-Luaibi, said the minister will visit Turkey by the end of the week, at the invitation of the Turkish government.
Both sides, the spokesman said in a statement, will review bilateral relations in the oil and gas sector "and discuss the case of restarting the oil exports through the Turkish port of Ceyhan."
Crude oil from northern Iraq flows primarily by truck and through a pipeline from territory controlled officially by the Kurdish government to Ceyhan. A second pipeline runs north from Kirkuk, though the ministry spokesman said it was damaged so badly by Islamic State militants that parts of it would need to be rebuilt.
The Iraqi Oil Ministry in January signed a memorandum of understanding with BP to overhaul fields seized when Iraqi forces grabbed control over parts of the region following a controversial referendum for Kurdish independence last year.
BP suggested in October it was in broader talks with efforts in Kirkuk, though so far has been tight lipped in its potential role in northern Iraq. By November, the ministry's spokesman said the order was given for "concerned companies and authorities" to prepare the documents related to the reconstruction of the pipeline meant to carry crude oil from Kirkuk to the Turkish sea port at Ceyhan.
Representatives from the Turkish Ministry of Energy met in November in Baghdad with their Iraqi counterparts and members of State Organization for Marketing of Oil. According to the ministry spokesman, oil in Kirkuk was high on the agenda.
Luaibi's visit to Turkey would be a continuation of those meetings. Oil, the ministry spokesman said, would be exported exclusively by SOMO, a national company with headquarters in Baghdad.
SOMO reported total oil exports from Iraq in December, the last full month for which it published data, was 109 million barrels at an average realized price of $59.35 per barrel. None of that oil was exported from Kirkuk. Monthly figures will be updated on Sunday.
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said in late August that Nineveh province and its capital, Mosul, were liberated from the Islamic State, also known as ISIL, ISIS, and Daesh. That led the federal government to start a reconstruction campaign in the region after years of battling the terrorist threat.