Statement: Iraqi Oil Minister To Visit Turkey
BAGHDAD, Feb 19 (Reuters) - Iraqi Oil Minister Jabar al-Luaibi will visit Turkey at the end of the week at the invitation of his Turkish counterpart to discuss the resumption of oil exports through Turkey's Ceyhan port, the Iraqi oil ministry said in a statement on Monday.
Oil exports from Iraq's north have been halted since Iraqi forces took control of the Bai Hasan and Avana oilfields northwest of Kirkuk, after Kurdish Peshmerga fighters pulled out from the region.
Oil minister Luaibi's visit to Turkey will target reaching an agreement to resume shipping Iraqi crude "exclusively through Iraq's state oil marketer SOMO", said oil ministry spokesman Asim Jihad.
Iraqi oil officials accuse Kurdish authorities of not responding to requests made by the oil ministry to use the Kurdish pipeline to resume exports from Kirkuk.
The Kurdish region operates a pipeline that connects to the twin Kirkuk-Ceyhan pipeline at Khabur on the border with Turkey.
Iraq plans to build a new export pipeline from the Kirkuk oilfields which will replace an old and severely damaged section of the Kirkuk-Ceyhan pipeline. It will start from oilfields near Kirkuk and extend to the Fish-Khabur border area with Turkey.
(Reporting by Ahmed Rasheed; writing by Ahmed Aboulenein; editing by Jason Neely and Louise Heavens)
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