Turkey will continue to export disputed oil supplies from the autonomous Kurdistan despite escalating violence in neighbouring Iraq, Ankara’s oil minister said on Thursday.
The minister, Taner Yildiz, said that Turkey would “protect its own stability and prosperity” as fighters from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant continue to sweep south through the country.
“We are neighbouring countries and of course instability affects us,” Yildiz said at an oil conference in Moscow.
Iraq, including autonomous Kurdistan, is the second-biggest producer in the OPEC producer cartel but the unrest has sparked fears its exports could be hit.
Baghdad insists it has the sole right to develop and export Iraqi oil and is threatening Ankara over its decision to allow exports from Kurdistan through its territory.
The autonomous Kurdistan region wants to hike oil exports to 400,000 barrels per day by the end of 2014, from 125,000 bpd currently.
Last month, the Iraqi government filed legal action against Turkey after Kurdish oil was exported to international markets without Baghdad’s consent.
Yildiz said the “flow of oil is ongoing, as of today, and as of tomorrow” from Kurdistan and pledged to continue exports despite the threats from Iraq’s government.
“If there is oil (to be exported) we will transit it,” he said.
He also dismissed Iraqi claims that Ankara was seeking to siphon off the oil for domestic use, adding that he believed “everything will be resolved in time … with our Iraqi brothers”.
“The Republic of Turkey is a state based on the rule of law and… always acts with the highest regard for international and national laws,” he said.