BAGHDAD (AFP) – Iraq on Sunday signed a deal with Turkey to extend for 15 years the use of the main pipeline linking its northern oilfields to the Mediterranean port of Ceyhan, it said in a statement.
The renewal of the existing deal, which ran out in March, was the result of lengthy negotiations and comes after the new agreement was initialed by Baghdad and Ankara in June.
“We have signed a deal to extend use of the pipeline for 15 years,” Iraqi Oil Minister Hussein al-Shahristani said at the signing ceremony, which was also attended by Turkish Energy Minister Taner Yildiz.
Shahristani said Ankara had given assurances it would not allow the pipeline’s oil to be confiscated by a third party, and noted the price Baghdad paid to use it had risen to one dollar from 75 cents per barrel.
He added the quantity of crude being transported along the pipeline would top one million barrels per day (bpd) in the “next few years” from current levels of 450,000-640,000 bpd.
The 970-kilometre (600-mile) pipeline runs from Iraq’s northern oil hub of Kirkuk to Ceyhan, the Turkish port from where the crude is shipped to world markets by tanker.
The twin conduit, first inaugurated in 1976, carried 167.6 million barrels of oil last year, according to Turkish statistics.
It has been repeatedly sabotaged by Sunni Arab insurgents inside Iraq and by Kurdish militants inside Turkey.