29 Kasım 2013 Cuma

Iran says gold trade with Turkey to resume


* Gold trade seen less than last year
* Trade boomed in 2012 as Iranians bought gold
* More Turkish banks seen working with Iran (Adds quotes, Halkbank, background)

Gold trade between Turkey and Iran will resume, albeit at lower levels than last year, once sanctions on Iran are eased, Iran's ambassador to Turkey said on Friday.

Turkey's gold trade with Iran boomed in 2012 when Ankara was paying for its natural gas and oil imports with Turkish lira and Iranians were using those deposits held in Turkey's Halkbank to buy gold.

"Certainly the gold trade between Iran and Turkey will resume," the ambassador, Ali Reza Bigdeli, told reporters in the Turkish capital on Friday.

"Due to the problems in money transfers in 2012, the gold trade rose. I don't think that we are still in the same situation that would require us to trade in gold in those amounts," he said.

Some of the gold was held inside Turkey in the peak of the trade, while some was taken to Dubai by couriers to be sold for foreign currency which was much needed by Iran and to which it did not have access due to tight Western sanctions.

This trade had dried up as a provision of U.S. sanctions, made law in the summer of 2012 and implemented from Feb. 6, effectively tightened control on sales of precious metals to Iran and prevented Halkbank from processing oil payments by other countries back to Tehran.

"There are a lot of areas between Iran and Turkey that we could trade, we should revive those too," Bigdeli said.

He also said Halkbank will maintain an important role in relations between Ankara and Tehran and that other Turkish banks are expected to work with Iran as risks ease.

Source:  http://mobile.reuters.com/article/idUSL5N0JE1OR20131129?irpc=932

Turkey, Iraqi Kurdistan sign landmark energy contracts


Turkey and Iraqi Kurdistan signed a package of landmark contracts earlier this week that will see the semi-autonomous region's oil and gas shipped to international markets via pipelines through Turkey, sources close to the deal told Reuters on Friday.

The sources said the deals were signed during Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani's three hour-long meeting with Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday.

The move is likely to further infuriate Baghdad, which claims the sole authority to manage Iraqi oil and which said late on Thursday that any energy deal with Kurdistan would be "an encroachment on the sovereignty of Iraq".

Source:  http://uk.reuters.com/article/2013/11/29/uk-turkey-iraq-oil-idUKBRE9AS06720131129

23 Kasım 2013 Cumartesi

US urges talks for energy in East Med

Hürriyet Daily News

The United States has called for continued dialogue between Turkey and the relevant parties in exploring energy resources both in the Eastern Mediterranean as well as in Iraq.

Carlos Pascual, the U.S. special envoy, called for dialog among parties on the potential resources that are yet to be explored in the Eastern Mediterranean, at the Atlantic Council Summit in Istanbul.
Discoveries of significant amounts of gas around Cyprus have brought with them political problems, as Turkey raised objections about exploration and ownership rights before a political settlement was reached on the divided island. Strains in Israeli–Turkish relations further complicated the transport of gas to a European market via Turkey, which experts agree will be the most commercial way.

It is too early to predict how Eastern Mediterranean gas will reach international markets according to Pascual, who said conversations between countries and companies would be critical to find the most commercially viable and politically acceptable solution.

Meanwhile Leonardo Bellodi, senior vice-president for public Affairs of ENİ said “things looked improved compared to a year ago,” when asked by the Hürriyet Daily News. Turkey had warned companies last year not to go ahead with exploration works in the Mediterranean or face consequences.

Greek Cyprus to auction gas exploration blocks


Greek Cyprus has entered talks with Italian-South Korean venture ENI-KOGAS on licensing two offshore exploration blocks, state media said, as the recession-hit island steps up its search for gas reserves.

The cabinet reportedly gave the green light for the negotiations on blocks 5 and 6 to begin, with a December 2 deadline ready to be extended. Government spokesman Victoras Papadopoulos confirmed ministers had discussed the issue but told reporters there was “nothing to announce publicly.”

Earlier this year, ENI-KOGAS secured permits to exploit possible hydrocarbon deposits in blocks 2, 3 and 9. The venture plans to start drilling in the third quarter of 2014.

Shah Deniz 2 awaits TANAP FID for project commencement


Hürriyet Daily News

Al Cook, the Vice President of Shah Deniz Development, emphasizes the importance for TANAP’s key shareholders, Turkey and Azerbaijan, to finalize their decision on investment plans to carry gas.

The Shah Deniz 2 consortium is awaiting the partnership heading the Trans Anatolian Natural Gas Pipeline project to make their FID prior to making their own, with the FID required to trigger the execution of plans to develop Azerbaijani gas fields, according to a high level BP executive.

The TANAP oil pipeline will be carrying gas from Azerbaijan through Georgia and Turkey to European markets the year. Talking yesterday at the Atlantic Council summit in Istanbul, Al Cook, the Vice President of Shah Deniz Development, emphasized the importance for TANAP’s key shareholders, Turkey and Azerbaijan, to finalize their decision on investment plans in order for the FID required for the Shah Deniz 2 project to be made.Yet the reverse is also true for TANAP, according to energy experts, who said TANAP is also waiting for the Shah Deniz 2 consortium to make its final investment decision in order for the project to receive the green light.

“Shah Deniz 2 needs to make the FID before the end of the year because they can no longer delay it,” John Roberts, an energy security specialist, told the Daily News. Al Cook expressed confidence that the Shah Deniz 2’s final investment decision will be made before the end of the year, although admitting that “there will be few very busy weeks ahead.”

20 Kasım 2013 Çarşamba

Iraq Kurds to Pump Oil to Turkey in Truce With Baghdad

Bloomberg        Selcan Hacaoğlu & Onur Ant

Iraq’s Kurds plan to start pumping oil to Turkey next month via a pipeline controlled by the central government in Baghdad, signaling an easing of their dispute over resources, according to two people familiar with the plan.

The new line will take Kurdish oil into the existing pipe that runs from Kirkuk in Iraq to Turkey’s Mediterranean port of Ceyhan, initially carrying 150,000 barrels a day starting in December, according to the Turkish energy industry officials who asked not to be identified because the information isn’t public. An Iraqi energy industry manager, who requested anonymity for the same reason, said the state oil company has accounted for the extra oil in 2014 plans.

Ashti Hawrami, the Kurdish Regional Government’s natural resources minister, said at a press conference last month that the 40-kilometer pipeline will have a capacity of 300,000 barrels a day. Mehmet Sepil, president of London-listed Genel Energy, said at the same conference that the pipeline from Dohuk to Fishkabur on the Turkish border will carry 200,000 barrels a day from its Tawke and Taq Taq fields.

The Iraqi official said the Kurdish oil will be metered when it feeds into the main pipeline, at Fishkabur near the Turkish border, and again when it arrives at Ceyhan.

The agreement signals a truce on the issue between the Iraqi Kurds, who say they should have control over oil and gas resources in the north, and the Baghdad government, which argues that all energy transactions need central approval.

12 Kasım 2013 Salı

Iraq’s Kurdish region pursues ties with Turkey — for energy revenue and independence

The Washington Post   Ben Van Heuvelen

As the rest of Iraq descends into a crisis of deepening violence, the autonomous enclave of Kurdistan is enlisting the help of an unlikely ally, Turkey, to reach for a long-delayed dream of independence.

In many ways, Iraqi Kurdistan already acts like a sovereign state. Kurdish authorities provide all public services, command their own army and control their own borders — including their heavily guarded southern border with ­Arab-majority provinces of Iraq. In Irbil, the Kurdish capital, most government buildings fly the Kurdish flag — not the flag of Iraq — and many members of the younger generation never learned Arabic and speak only Kurdish.

Until now, however, the Kurds have remained tightly tied to Baghdad because they depend on the Iraqi treasury for the vast majority of their regional budget.

That could soon change.

Putting aside years of hostility, Turkish and Kurdish leaders are quietly implementing an energy partnership agreement, signed earlier this year, that promises to provide the Kurdistan region with an independent stream of oil revenue.

The first major step in the plan is a pipeline that runs directly to Turkey, beyond Baghdad’s reach, and that will begin operating by the end of the year, according to the Kurdistan region’s minister of natural resources, Ashti Hawrami.

“It is our duty as Iraqis to pursue export routes for oil and gas, to secure our future,” Hawrami said.

Israel set to become major gas exporter

The Financial Times   John Reed

The Tamar deepwater natural gas platform rises 290m from the seabed off Ashdod, in southern Israel, emerging above the waterline only for the last 50 metres or so.
The $3.5bn project is described by its investors Delek of Israel and Noble Energy of the US as the largest private sector infrastructure undertaking in Israel’s 65-year history. The gas from Tamar, which began sending its output onshore in late March, will contribute about a percentage point of the country’s gross domestic product this year.
Israel is on the threshold of becoming a major energy power in the Middle East – with potentially game-changing consequences for geopolitics and economic relations in a volatile region – after a court decision unlocked the path to exports.
Executives at Delek and Noble told the Financial Times they are fast-tracking discussions on a range of export options for the much larger, still undeveloped Leviathan field, which lies about 30km to Tamar’s west, and holds an estimated 19tn cubic feet of gas – one of the industry’s biggest recent deepwater finds of its kind.

They are moving forward following a decision by Israel’s supreme court in late October to reject petitions brought by civil society groups and opposition politicians who questioned the right of Benjamin Netanyahu’s government to set aside 40 per cent of Israel’s gas windfall for exports without having consulted the Knesset, Israel’s legislature. 

8 Kasım 2013 Cuma

Iraq vows to work with BP on controversial oil field


Iraq said Wednesday it would proceed with work alongside British energy giant BP on a controversial northern oilfield, in a move likely to spark anger in the country's Kurdish region.

The development of the Kirkuk oilfield, which lies amid a swathe of disputed territory in north Iraq, is at the heart of a row over land, oil revenues and the powers of the central government that has been raging for years between Baghdad and the autonomous Kurdistan region.

Iraqi Oil Minister Abdelkarim al-Luaybi, Kirkuk provincial Governor Najm al-Din Omar Karim and BP chief executive Bob Dudley visited the field after holding talks in the province's eponymous capital.

"The contract with the British company will be executed by treating the decline in oil production at Kirkuk oilfield, which has reached 230,000 barrels (per day), and the company will work on surveying the fields and sites of Kirkuk oilfield throughout the contract period," Luaybi told AFP.

Current output represents a significant drop off from the field's peak, and Iraqi officials hope to increase production to 500,000 barrels per day in three years.

7 Kasım 2013 Perşembe

Turkey, Iraqi Kurdistan clinch major energy pipeline deals

REUTERS        Hümeyra PAMUK & Orhan COSKUN

Iraqi Kurdistan has finalized a comprehensive package of deals with Turkey to build multi-billion dollar oil and gas pipelines to ship the autonomous region's rich hydrocarbon reserves to world markets, sources involved in talks said on Wednesday.

The deals, which could have important geo-political consequences for the Middle East, could see Kurdistan export some 2 million barrels per day (bpd) of oil to world markets and at least 10 billion cubic meters per year of gas to Turkey.

Such a relationship would have been unthinkable just a few years ago, when Ankara enjoyed strong ties with Iraq's central Baghdad government and was deep in a decades-long fight with Kurdish militants on its own soil.

But Turkey imports almost all of its energy needs and growing demand means it faces a ballooning deficit, making the resources over its southeastern border hard to ignore.

During a visit to Istanbul last week by Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) prime minister Nechirvan Barzani, both sides agreed on the fundamentals of the deals and mapped out technical details for a second oil pipeline and a gas route from Iraq's north to Turkey, sources involved in the talks said.

1 Kasım 2013 Cuma

Iraq says Big Oil to spend $25 bln next yr, despite unrest

REUTERS     Peg Mackey and Ahmed Rasheed

* Foreign oil firms due to spend over $25 bln in 2014
* Oil output in south expected to rise by average 500,000 bpd
* Giant southern oilfields, central fields seen safe from attack
* Smaller Nineveh oilfields, Anbar gasfield more vulnerable
* China seeks over 1 million bpd of Iraqi crude

Big Oil is poised to spend over $25 billion next year to boost output from Iraq's giant oilfields towards record rates, Iraq's deputy prime minister for energy said, even as Baghdad struggles to control spillover from the civil war in Syria.

Far from harm's way, the prized oilfields of southern Iraq - drivers of the country's oil expansion - are expected to pump an extra 500,000 barrels per day (bpd) in 2014, said Hussain al-Shahristani. Total output this year is set to average just over 3 million bpd, holding Iraq's rank as OPEC's no. 2 producer.

But Baghdad is raising its guard at the smaller fields of Najmah and Qayara - operated by Angolan Sonangol, which lie in the al-Qaeda heartland of Nineveh province in the northwest and at the Akkas gasfield, operated by South Korea's Kogas, in the western Anbar province near the Syrian border, he said.

"We are definitely concerned about the upsurge in violence, but our concern is for the Iraqi people throughout the country. Iraq is trying its best to combat terrorism," he said in an interview in his office in the heavily fortified green zone.

"The security situation has not affected the oilfields in the south and central Iraq and we haven't noticed any hesitation or slow down in investment by the companies."

Baghdad says still opposes KRG oil pipeline

Iraq PM Maliki and Iraq Deputy Prime Minister for Energy Hussain al-Shahristani

REUTERS   Ahmed Rasheed and Peg Mackey

Baghdad said it is still firmly opposed to Iraqi Kurdistan's plan for an independent oil pipeline through Turkey, insisting that only the central government has the right to export crude.

Iraq's deputy prime minister for energy, Hussain al-Shahristani, told Reuters he had conveyed Baghdad's views to Turkish Energy Minister Taner Yildiz.

"Turkey is aware of Iraq's concern and total rejection of that (KRG pipeline) plan. We have reminded Turkey that this is in breach of the agreement between the two countries that regulates exports from Iraq through the Turkish pipeline," al-Shahristani told Reuters.

"Turkey assured us they respect that agreement and they will not allow any export of Iraqi crude without the permission of the federal government in