Before his departure for Washington, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced, “We will undertake joint exploration with ExxonMobil in northern Iraq.” This is how he stated Turkey’s readiness to make a presence in northern Iraq, not despite the US, but with it.
Speaking at an airport news conference before his departure, Erdogan revealed an important cooperative venture in northern Iraq. He said, “We have taken a step to begin oil exploration with ExxonMobil, together with the northern Iraq regional administration. We will develop these steps further during my US visit.”
This was Erdogan’s way of saying that the region’s less costly oil and natural gas resources will be available to the world via Turkey, and that the US firm Exxon was cooperating alongside Turkey in this venture. Erdogan noted that the northern Iraq regional administration has a constitutional right to undertake such an action. “It is the right of that administration to cooperate in this action with Turkey,” Erdogan said.
● Erdogan is also telling the Baghdad government, which is unhappy with the Turkish presence in northern Iraq, that “the US is with us.”
● This step means opening up northern Iraq’s vast oil and natural resources to the world. For Turkey it means cheaper access to natural gas and oil resources, only 150-200 km from its border.
● Turkey’s energy costs are too high. Instead of paying an average of $450 for 1,000 cubic meters of natural gas purchased from Russia, Iran and Azerbaijan, Turkey will now be paying $200-250 for this amount.
● With a pipeline, the region’s 3.2 trillion cubic meters of natural gas reserves will be transported to Turkey and via Turkey, to the world.
After Israel’s apology to Turkey, the green light has been given for energy deals in the region. Last week, Turkey’s Energy Minister Taner Yildiz said Turkey was ready to cooperate with Israel and Greek Cypriots in the eastern Mediterranean; we will soon learn about the US role in this cooperation.