Iraqi Oil Minister Amer Rasheed said late on October 29th that Baghdad was making headway in talks with foreign firms to establish a pipeline to carry natural gas to the Turkish port of Ceyhan and had completed plans to build the Iraqi section of an oil pipeline to Jordan.
Rasheed said that: “Talks are in their advanced stages with Turkish, French and Italian companies to implement the gas pipeline.” Baghdad and Ankara had signed a preliminary deal to construct a gas pipeline with an annual capacity of 10 billion cubic meters in 1997.
Turkish Foreign Minister Tunca Toskay was in Baghdad on October 30th to consider the possibility of opening a second border crossing with Iraq to boost bilateral trade. Toskay said that: “For a year now, Turkish-Iraqi ties have witnessed noticeable development and Turkey is keen to boost cooperation and increase the volume of trade exchanges with Iraq.”
Iraq was Turkey’s largest crude supplier and third-largest trade partner before sanctions were imposed on Baghdad, but bilateral trade has dropped sharply from $2.5 billion annually in the early 1990s.
Iraqi Trade Minister Mohammed Medhi Saleh said that: “When the sanctions are lifted, there will be more opportunities for cooperation between the two countries, and the discussion of this cooperation now will help activate bilateral ties.”
Speaking to Iraq’s parliament, Rasheed said that Baghdad had completed plans for its section of the proposed $350-million pipeline to carry Iraqi crude to the Jordanian refinery of al-Zarqa, but was waiting for Amman to decide when to commence construction. The two countries signed a preliminary agreement in 1998 to build the 720-km / 450-mile pipeline from the Iraqi pumping station in Haditha.