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Iraq Agrees To Renew Oil Link Accord With Turkey

The Kirkuk-Turkey pipeline being repaired in 2004

The Kirkuk-Turkey pipeline being repaired in 2004

BAGHDAD (Reuters) -- Iraq has agreed with Turkey to renew an accord to operate an oil pipeline from its northern oil fields near Kirkuk to the Turkish Mediterranean port of Ceyhan, a senior Iraqi oil official has said.

"Iraq has approved to renew the Kirkuk-Ceyhan agreement after agreeing on some changes and amendments", Iraq's deputy oil minister, Ahmad al-Shamma, told Reuters.

Shamma said the two sides had agreed on new transit fees and upgrades to the pipeline.

"There is an Iraqi delegation in Turkey now, headed by a deputy oil minister, to finalize the deal."

The agreement is expected to be signed during a trip by Turkish Energy Minister Taner Yildiz to Baghdad, scheduled for March 22, said a Turkish Energy Ministry official who declined to be named.

An agreement between Baghdad and Ankara that governs the operation of the 970-kilometer pipeline, which transports about a quarter of all Iraqi oil exports, expires this month.

Turkish officials said talks with Baghdad on extending the accord began last year.

The deal will include a guarantee from Baghdad on the flow of oil in the pipeline, the Turkish Energy Ministry official said.

Flows are sometimes halted due to maintenance problems or sabotage by Iraqi insurgents and poor security left the link mostly idle between 2003 and 2007 after the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.

The double-pipe link has a capacity of 1.6 million barrels per day (bpd) but normally carries about 500,000 bpd.

The Kirkuk-Ceyhan pipeline first opened in 1977.