Turkey said Friday it has begun exporting oil supplies from Iraqi Kurdistan to international markets, a move that could exacerbate strained tensions between Baghdad and Kurds.
Energy Minister Taner Yildiz told reporters that shipments of Iraqi oil from Turkey's Mediterranean port of Ceyhan began Thursday evening.
"It's Iraq that makes sales and possesses the oil and it's again Iraq that will govern the future sales," said Yildiz.
The exports via Turkey came in defiance of Baghdad which claims its oil ministry must approve all sales.
Iraq has some of the world's largest deposits of oil and gas, and the central government in Baghdad insists it has the sole right to develop and export the country's natural resources.
Since the US-led invasion in 2003, Baghdad has been at loggerheads with the energy-rich autonomous northern Kurdish region, which has sought to sign deals with foreign firms and export without the consent of the central government.
The exports through Turkey could raise tensions between the Kurds and Baghdad after the April 30 elections in which the country's Shiite Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki emerged the biggest winner.
The United States voiced concerns on Thursday that the move could destabilise Iraq.
Copyright, Global Energy World, 2014.