Iraq, Turkey yet to agree on northern oil exports resumption - sources

Iraq's oil minister Hayan Abdel-Ghani speaks during a press conference at Iraq's Majnoon oil field near Basra

By Ahmed Rasheed

BAGHDAD (Reuters) -Iraq's oil minister and his Turkish counterpart did not reach an agreement to immediately resume Iraq's northern oil exports but agreed to hold more talks in the future, said two energy sources with knowledge of the ministers' meeting in Ankara on Tuesday.

Turkey halted flows on March 25 after an arbitration ruling by the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) ordered Ankara to pay Baghdad damages of $1.5 billion for unauthorised exports by the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) between 2014 and 2018.

The block consists mainly of oil originating from Iraq's semi-autonomous Kurdish region.

The results of the meeting were to allow Turkey and Iraq to finalise pipeline maintenance before resuming oil flow, said an oil ministry statement.

Iraq's oil minister Hayan Abdel-Ghani had arrived in the Turkish capital to discuss issues including the resumption of oil exports through the Ceyhan oil terminal, a source in the minister's office told Reuters earlier.

An Iraqi oil ministry official who is close to the northern oil exports operations said on Tuesday that the Turkish energy ministry informed Iraq's state-owned marketer SOMO last month that it needed more time to check the technical feasibility of the pipeline to resume flows.

"Turkish energy ministry informed SOMO last month that more time is needed to check the pipeline and crude storage tanks in Ceyhan for any damages resulting from the earthquake-hit Turkey," said the Iraqi official.

Iraqi energy officials said on Tuesday that the visit of the their oil minister is aimed at reaching common ground with Turkey to agree on a clear date when oil exports should be resumed.

"It's not an easy job to reach an agreement soon and we have a lot of thorny issues. Turkey has demands and conditions that require further talks to allow oil flow restart," said an oil ministry official with knowledge of Tuesday's meeting.

(Reporting by Ahmed Rasheed, Writing by Nayera Abdallah; Editing by Kirsten Donovan, Giles Elgood and Devika Syamnath)