Turkey issues first license to import northern Iraq gas

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Turkey's energy watchdog has issued its first license to import natural gas from northern Iraq to a Turkish company, paving the way for increased energy imports from Iraqi Kurdistan.

Istanbul-based Siyahkalem Engineering Construction Industry and Trade was issued a license, valid for 26 years, to import natural gas from northern Iraq, energy officials said.

Imports are set to start next year.

The company will start importing 700 million cubic meters of natural gas in 2014 and will aim to increase the amount to 3.2 billion cubic meters annually by 2033, an energy official said, citing plans submitted by the company.

Siyahkalem was not immediately available for comment.

Turkey has been courting Iraqi Kurds for the past year, pushing to increase cooperation as Iraq's semi-autonomous region which is at odds with the central government in Baghdad over oil payments.

Turkey, facing a large energy deficit, has already teamed up with U.S. oil giant ExxonMobil in the Kurdistan region, a move that has angered Baghdad, which claims sole authority to manage Iraqi oil.

Turkey is set to overtake Britain as Europe's third-biggest power consumer within a decade and relies on gas for at least half of its power generation.

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