Iraq instructs Turkey to restart northern exports

Formal orders from SOMO highlight progress in Baghdad-Erbil negotiations to implement a new framework for Kurdistan’s oil and revenue. All eyes are now on Turkey.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (right) receives Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani (left) in Ankara on March 21, 2023. (Photo credit: Prime Minister's Office)

Iraq has formally instructed Turkey to restart northern oil exports, signaling a breakthrough that could bring 475,000 barrels per day (bpd) of supply back onto global markets.

The federal government's oil marketing company, SOMO, "submitted an official request to the Turkish side on May 10 for the resumption of oil exports via the Kirkuk-Ceyhan pipeline," according to a statement from the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG).

Iraq’s Oil Ministry confirmed in a statement Thursday that SOMO had “informed” Turkey’s state pipeline operator, Botas, regarding “the resumption of export and loading operations as of Saturday, May 13.”

The northern pipeline system has been offline since March 25, two days after the International Commercial Court (ICC) in Paris ruled that Turkey had been violating its treaty with Iraq governing the Iraq-Turkey Pipeline (ITP) system by facilitating independent exports from Iraqi Kurdistan without Baghdad’s permission.

It remains unclear whether Turkey will take action to restart exports quickly or attempt to use the pipeline outage as leverage to pressure Iraq into forgiving the $1.471 billion award handed down by the ICC and dropping a second phase of arbitration.

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