THU, 3 OCT 2013 09:08 | KRG.org
Manchester, UK (KRG.org) – A pipeline to export oil from the Kurdistan Region will be operational within a few months, Ashti Hawrami, the Kurdistan Regional Government Minister of Natural Resources, told a meeting at the Conservative Party conference yesterday.
‘The new oil export pipeline from the Kurdistan Region is almost complete and is expected to be operational by the end of the year,’ Dr Hawrami said. He added that he expects exports to reach 1m barrels per day by 2015 and 2m by 2019. ‘ We are helping the security and continuity of energy supply to the world,’ he said.
He added, ‘Sharing all oil revenues according to the federal constitution, and the economic independence of Kurdistan are the recipe for the unity of Iraq.’
The minister was speaking at a meeting addressing energy security, hosted by the KRG UK Representation. Other speakers were Nadhim Zahawi MP, Jane Kinninmont of the think tank Chatham House, analyst and consultant Shwan Zulal, and Bayan Sami Abdul Rahman, the KRG’s High Representative to the UK. The meeting was chaired by Robert Halfon MP, vice-chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on the Kurdistan Region.
Dr Hawrami told an audience of Conservative Party members, diplomats, journalists, business representatives and analysts that Kurdistan Region’s energy riches had been ignored or used against the Kurdish people under previous Iraqi governments. ‘With the liberation of Iraq, a new era, an opportunity for sharing power and wealth, opened up in Iraq. The Iraqi constitution facilitates that but so far it hasn’t been implemented,’ he said.
The minister also noted that the KRG sees Turkey not just as a conduit for Kurdistan’s oil and gas to Western markets, but also as a consumer and partner. Dr Hawrami highlighted the role of British companies in the energy sector as well as in Kurdistan’s growing economy generally. He encouraged British companies to continue to look at Kurdistan as a destination for their investment. ‘We have a good relationship with Britain and there are lots of opportunities for British companies. It’s a win-win situation.’
Bayan Sami Abdul Rahman spoke about the KRG’s strategy of prioritising tourism, agriculture and industry in order to avoid over-reliance on the energy sector. She said that the Kurds were now a factor in the shaping of the Middle East, both in terms of energy security and political settlements.
Nadhim Zahawi, the first British member of parliament to be of Kurdish origin, told the meeting that groups like the Kurds could no longer be ignored by those wishing to establish peace in the Middle East. Jane Kinninmont said that the KRG would need to diversify its economy. ‘I visited Kurdistan this year and spoke to young students who were keen that oil and gas is not wasted and that the economy doesn’t over-rely on it. Economic diversification will be a very important aspect of Kurdistan’s future,’ she said.
Shwan Zulal described the Kurdistan Region as a viable source of energy to Europe and pointed out that the KRG hoped to have a minerals law in place in the near future, opening a new sector of the Kurdish economy.
While at the conference, which was held in Manchester, Minister Hawrami and Ms Abdul Rahman met several British ministers and MPs, including Alistair Burt, the Minister for the Middle East, Energy Minister Michael Fallon, Sajid Javid, Minister at the Treasury, and Lord Marland, the British Prime Minister’s Trade Envoy who recently led a trade delegation to Kurdistan. They also met the Turkish ambassador in Britain, Ünal Çeviköz, who welcomed them to the Conservative Friends of Turkey reception at the party conference.
The KRG UK Representation also attended the annual conferences of the Labour and Liberal Democrat parties in September. The Representation hosted a discussion on Kurdistan at the Labour Party conference with Ian Lucas, Shadow Middle East Minister, the Labour peer Lord Glasman, Faik Nerwayi, the Iraqi Ambassador to the UK, and Gary Kent, director of the APPG on Kurdistan.