Turkish state-run petroleum company TPAO and the Turkish Pipeline Corporation (BOTAS) and energy giant Royal Dutch Shell have cooperated for natural gas exploration and marketing in Iraq, the Turkish energy minister said on Thursday. (UPDATED)

TPAO has also been invited by several foreign companies to enter exploration tenders for eight oil fields in Iraq, and the company is assessing these invitations, Hilmi Guler said at the signing of a memorandum of understanding with Shell.

"There is a possibility of a TPAO partnership with Shell, especially on the Kirkuk field," he added.

TPAO had previously said it was interested in opportunities in neighboring Iraq's oil and gas sectors, and TPAO was added in April to the list of companies that pre-qualified to bid in oil exploration tenders.

Turkey mainly depended on the imported gas and oil sources has intensified its efforts to close the energy deficit. In a recent move, the country also signed a deal for the joint exploration and development of oil and natural gas in the Black Sea with Exxon Mobil on Wednesday.

The exploration will take place off the coast of the Black Sea port cities of Samsun and Kastamonu.