Full crude oil exports from Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurdish Region to Turkey could begin in the second half of 2014, as upgrades to pumping stations along a new independent pipeline are still required.

Upgrades to pumping stations and the completion of commissioning works for a final phase of a new Kurdish pipeline are expected during the second half of 2014, according to a statement from UK-Turkish joint venture, Genel Energy.

The export pipeline is being developed in three phases.

The first section of the new Kurdish oil pipeline became operational in the first half of 2013. The 20-inch pipeline running from the Taq Taq field to Khurmala has a capacity of 150,000 barrels a day (b/d), with the potential to increase to 200,000 b/d.

The second section which involved the conversion of a 36-inch gas pipeline from Khurmala to Dohuk has also been completed.

The final section, from Dohuk to the border with Turkey, was completed in the third quarter of 2013 and tied in to the existing 40-inch section of the Iraq-Turkey pipeline through a new metering station. Commissioning work has been progressing since the end of 2013.

“Although the pipeline may not reach capacity until the second half of the year, production – which averaged 44,000 b/d in 2013 – is expected to average 60,000 to 70,000 b/d in 2014 due to additional production capacity coming onstream, with the infrastructure to utilise this increased capacity” Genel said in its preliminary 2013 results on 6 March.

In December, the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and Turkey signed a raft of agreements to allow the export of crude oil and gas directly to its northern neighbour and onto international markets. Until now, crude exports have been delivered by truck across the Iraq-Turkey border to the Mediterranean port of Ceyhan, where it is sold by the KRG on the international market.

Initial quantities of crude from the Tawke field, operated by Norway’s DNO have already flowed through the pipeline and more than 1 million barrels of the crude are currently being stored at Ceyhan.