|Turkey said Monday it has clinched deals to explore for oil in Iraqi Kurdistan, a venture made possible by agreements with the central Baghdad government and the autonomous region.
“We own blocs in the foothills of the Qandil mountains as part of contracts we concluded with Baghdad and northern Iraq,” Energy Minister Taner Yildiz was quoted as saying by the state-run Anatolia news agency.
The inhospitable region has long been the base of Turkish Kurds fighting for a separate state in bordering southeastern Turkey, but the move comes as momentum gathers for a historic peace accord to end the separatist conflict that has claimed some 40,000 lives.
Turkey, which is dependent on Russia and Iran for its growing energy needs, is seeking alternative sources of affordable oil and gas, and has increasingly seen Kurdistan as the best option.
Turkey’s leaders have developed burgeoning links with Iraqi Kurds in recent years.
Baghdad took legal action last year when Ankara revealed it was helping Iraqi Kurds to export oil independently to international markets via Turkey.
Ankara’s new move to prospect for oil in northern Iraq’s Hindirin and Coman fields could also make waves in Baghdad despite the contracts and an agreement between Baghdad and the autonomous Kurdish region over the budget and oil exports.
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