Iraq warned Turkey Wednesday that the opening of a new oil export pipeline from its autonomous Kurdish region, which is outside central government control, would seriously harm relations.
“The Iraqi government informed the Turkish ambassador in Baghdad of its strong opposition to signing the pipeline deal with Kurdistan,” Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki’s spokesman, Ali Mussawi, told AFP.
The government “threatens in case this signature happens, bilateral relations between Baghdad, and Ankara will be damaged severely,” Mussawi added.
His comments came after Kurdistan regional prime minister Nechirvan Barzani said ahead of talks in Ankara that the pipeline could open as early as next month.
Barzani held three hours of talks with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Energy Minister Taner Yildiz on Wednesday on comprehensive new energy deals between Ankara and the Kurdish regional government.
To the anger of Baghdad, Kurdish authorities are seeking ways of selling their oil on international markets outside its control.
The pipeline project to Turkey is projected to carry up to 300,000 barrels per day (bpd), a fraction of the total 2.25 million bpd Iraq exported in October.
But Baghdad fears that figure could grow.