ANKARA (Reuters) - Turkish Energy Minister Taner Yildiz said on Monday 6.5 million barrels of Iraqi Kurdish crude oil had been shipped to world markets via Turkey's Ceyhan port since exports began and that a seventh tanker was being loaded at the terminal.

Yildiz said crude flow on the Kirkuk-Ceyhan pipeline had been halted as of Monday due to maintenance work. Flows through the 120,000 barrel-per-day (bpd) pipeline began at the end of 2013 but the first cargo was not loaded until May.

The Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) in northern Iraq, whose peshmerga forces are being supported by U.S. air strikes in their battle against the radical Sunni militants of the Islamic State, has been in a long constitutional fight with Baghdad over independent oil sales.

Some shipments have been held up under diplomatic and legal pressure from Baghdad, but an increasing number are now finding buyers.

Iraq has the world's fourth-largest oil reserves and is targeting exports of 6 million bpd by 2017, which would see it overtake its neighbor and fellow OPEC member Iran.

Yildiz also said Iran had not made a tangible proposal for the sale of natural gas at a discounted price to Turkey, adding that Turkey would now await a decision from the international court of arbitration on pricing.

Turkey depends on imports for almost all of its natural gas needs and Tehran is its most expensive supplier.

Turkey's state-owned Petroleum Pipeline Corporation (BOTAS) applied to an international court of arbitration in 2012 for a ruling on Iran's gas pricing. The case is still pending.


(Reporting by Ozge Ozbilgin; Writing by Seda Sezer; Editing by Nick Tattersall and David Evans)