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Re: Kurdistan Oil & Gas Development

PostPosted: Wed Jan 17, 2018 9:02 am
Author: Anthea
Chevron Plans to Return to Kurdistan

    U.S. major says it will drill again at the Sarta block
    Operations were halted in October amid stand-off in the region
Chevron Corp. plans to resume drilling in Iraq’s Kurdistan as tensions between the semi-autonomous region and the federal government abate.

The U.S. oil major plans to drill the Sarta 3 well north of Erbil, Chevron said in a statement Tuesday. It temporarily halted exploration work in October amid the stand-off between the the Kurdistan Regional Government and Baghdad.

Oil operations were disrupted in northern Iraq after the Kurds voted in favor of independence in September. The move infuriated the federal government in Baghdad, which dispatched forces to retake the Kirkuk oilfield, which lies outside the KRG-run enclave, from Kurdish control. Though the future of the region remains uncertain and only some of the disrupted crude shipments have been restored, the situation hasn’t escalated further, opening the way for Chevron’s return.

The challenges for oil companies to operate in the region haven’t gone away completely as “logistics are now more difficult” because of the disruption to flights, Robin Mills, Chief Executive Officer of consultant Qamar Energy said. Some producers like DNO ASA and Genel Energy Plc never left Kurdistan even at the height of tensions. Chevron doesn’t produce any oil in Kurdistan.

“We are taking all necessary steps to re-mobilize people and equipment to ensure we are well prepared to resume operations,” according to the Chevron statement.

The world’s third-biggest oil company has a 80 percent stake each in the Sarta and Qara Dagh blocks. ... ions-abate

Re: Kurdistan Oil & Gas Development

PostPosted: Sat Jan 20, 2018 12:36 am
Author: Anthea
Iraq's Kurdish Gas Project Gets Boost Amid Political Tumult
By Angelina Rascouet

    Genel’s Miran, Bina Bawi fields hold more gas than estimated
    Export plans still dependent on politics following referendum
Plans to export natural gas from Iraqi Kurdistan got a boost after reserves were upgraded at two key fields. Yet successful development still hinges on the region’s turbulent politics.

The Miran and Bina Bawi deposits hold 14.8 trillion cubic feet of contingent gas resources, explorer Genel Energy Plc said Friday in a statement after an audit was carried out by RPS Energy Consultants Ltd. That’s an increase of more than 40 percent from the previous estimate in 2016.

The upgrade is a boon for Genel, whose fields could turn the semi-autonomous province into a gas exporter by sending fuel to Turkey. But risks remain. The project stalled last year after an independence referendum stoked tensions between the Kurdistan Regional Government and federal authorities. The vote also infuriated Turkey, which has its own restive Kurdish population.

“The referendum has really been the key to what is or isn’t going to happen with Miran and Bina Bawi,” Daniel Slater, an analyst at Arden Partners Plc, said before Friday’s resource update. While the fields could be a “significant source of upside” for Genel, there’s little hope of “any material progress on funding or anything else on it until the tensions between the KRG and Baghdad die down.”

Shares in Genel rose as much as 9 percent in London trading, reaching the highest level in more than three months. They were trading 7.2 percent higher at 136.2 pence as of 2:10 p.m. local time.

The standoff following the Kurdish vote led to the shutdown of key crude flows from the disputed area of Kirkuk after Baghdad seized control of oil fields. Genel’s oil operations weren’t affected, but the company had already said it was looking to natural gas for future growth.

Last February, the KRG committed to buy the gas from Miran and Bina Bawi for export, signing accords with Genel with a one-year option to terminate. While crucial for Genel’s plans to create a “transformational” gas business, the fields are also key to the KRG: the region pumps just 310 million cubic feet a day from its Khormor field, all for the local market, Wood Mackenzie Ltd. data show.

Genel expects to complete a plan to develop the fields shortly, and is also looking at ways to transport and sell the gas, according to the statement. A final investment decision could be taken once there’s sufficient progress on these elements, it said.

Going It Alone

Production at Miran and Bina Bawi is reliant on construction of a processing plant and export pipeline, which the KRG would oversee. The fields also hold significant amounts of toxic sulfur, which makes development more complex, according to Wood Mackenzie.

“These are very good assets, but quite complicated and difficult as well for just Genel to do it on its own,” Homayoun Falakshahi, a WoodMac analyst, said before the reserves update. “The project needs the stars to be aligned, but it’s not the case for the moment.”

Genel said in June that “powerful, big, international companies” were interested in the gas-export project alongside a firm called Turkish Energy Co., but no progress on partnerships has been communicated since. The company’s next trading update is due Jan. 25. ... tic-u-turn

Re: Kurdistan Oil & Gas Development

PostPosted: Tue Jan 30, 2018 7:46 pm
Author: Anthea
Iraq to send more Kirkuk oil to Kurdistan’s refineries

The Iraqi oil ministry plans to increase crude oil flow from Kirkuk to Kurdish refineries despite Iraqi lawmakers opposing the move with a ban earlier this month.

The Kirkuk-based North Oil Company plans to nearly double the allocation of oil to refineries owned by the Erbil-based KAR Group, a sign of increasing cooperation between the Iraqi oil ministry and the Kurdistan Region, as reported by Iraqi Oil Report on Tuesday.

The Iraqi parliament banned Erbil-based oil and gas KAR Group from operating oil fields in Kirkuk in early January.

With a majority vote on January 8, parliament passed the motion banning KAR Group and assigned state-owned North Oil Company to take over oil production in the province and export it through the Iraqi marketing company (SOMO).

KAR Group had failed to reach an agreement with Iraqi authorities over the operation of the oil fields that were under Kurdish control following the rise of ISIS in 2014 until mid-October when the disputed areas came under Baghdad’s control.

The Kurdish company withdrew its staff and locked their facilities in the oilfields when Iraqi forces, supported by Iranian-backed Hashd al-Shaabi paramilitaries, drove the Peshmerga out of the area in response to Kurdistan’s independence vote.

The Kurdistan Regional Government’s (KRG) revenues have been slashed by about half since the loss of Kirkuk, further worsening the Region’s financial crisis caused by Iraqi budget cuts since early 2014, low oil prices, and the war against ISIS.

The parliament also mandated an investigation into exports from the formerly KRG-controlled oil fields and bank accounts that received revenues from oil sales. The legislature tasked various parliamentary committees, including energy and finances, with the inquiry.

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi criticized the Kurdish oil sales on several occasions, often releasing numbers different from those released by the KRG's Ministry of Natural Resources.

KRG Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani urged Baghdad to check all the numbers concerning the oil and gas audit.

“If Baghdad is interested to learn about the numbers and what have we done, we are ready for the Iraqi government and parliament to come and any side to put all the data before them as we have wanted to have an extreme level of transparency,” Barzani said in early January.

The KRG signed an agreement with Deloitte, the largest professional and financial services company in the world, to conduct an audit of the Kurdistan Region’s oil production, exportation, and revenues at the end of 2016.

Bringing Deloitte in is part of the KRG’s economic reform plan and to increase transparency in the oil sector.

Deloitte stated in its financial report released on January 16 that they found no "misstatements" of the KRG's oil exports, consumption, or sales for the first half of 2017.

The data for the second half of 2017 will be published in the near future, the KRG said, adding it "considers the auditing process as an important step for strengthening transparency in the oil and gas sector of the Kurdistan Region."

"The KRG has approved Deloitte's recommendations to further enhance the processes and address any shortcomings," the statement added.

The firm will also be auditing oil production and sales for 2014, 2015, and 2016.

The KRG’s Ministry of Natural Resources stated on Tuesday that an audit by Ernst and Young of bonuses paid to the KRG by international oil companies will also be released soon.

Erbil and Baghdad have yet to decide on issues like oil exports and the KRG’s budget share that could help the Region to recover from its financial crisis.

Re: Kurdistan Oil & Gas Development

PostPosted: Sat Feb 03, 2018 10:37 pm
Author: Anthea
Iraq denies Daesh controls oil-rich Kirkuk


Iraq’s Defense Ministry on Saturday denied reports that the Daesh terrorist group was controlling nearly half of the oil-rich Kirkuk province.

“Iraqi security forces are in full control of the province,” the ministry said in a statement.

Local media earlier said, citing a Kurdish MP, that Daesh had overrun nearly half of the province and that hundreds of militants had been deployed in the area.

In October, Iraqi forces expelled the terrorist organization from the oil-rich province.

In earlier statements to Anadolu Agency, Kirkuk governor Rakan al-Jabouri admitted “security violations” on the outskirts of Kirkuk.

“[Daesh] sleeper cells or gangs were exploiting the province’s wide area to hide and carry out attacks and kidnappings,” he said.

Daesh has been driven out by Iraqi forces, backed by U.S.-led coalition warplanes, from territory overran by the terrorist group in northern and western Iraq in 2014. ... uk/1053439

Re: Kurdistan Oil & Gas Development

PostPosted: Sat Feb 03, 2018 10:40 pm
Author: Anthea
Oil minister wants Rosneft in Baghdad to discuss Kirkuk fields

Iraq is urging Rosneft to come to Baghdad soon to discuss energy agreements like pipelines and exploration in oil-rich Kirkuk’s fields.

“Rosneft is important because it owns 60 percent of the Kirkuk-Ceyhan pipeline, and we want to use this pipeline,” Iraqi Oil Minister Jabar al-Luaibi was quoted by the Atlantic Council as saying following KRG-Iraq meetings at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

The Russian majority state-owned oil company is scheduled to come to Iraq in March, but the Atlantic reported Luaibi had said Rosneft should come to Baghdad to meet before then.

Rosneft does not have operations in Kirkuk's oil fields, but it does have facilities elsewhere in the Kurdistan Region, which is also where the Ceyhan pipeline is routed before crossing into Turkey.

The Kurdistan Region's export of oil without Baghdad's permission has been a sticking point in relations.

Those relations reached a low point after Kirkuk came under federal control in October and took control of oil fields in the disputed or Kurdistani areas, claimed by both capitals.

Baghdad did not take Khurmala oil field, which is part of the Kirkuk oil base and was seized by the KRG in 2008. Both Iraq and Kurdistan claim it as their own.

Rosneft and the KRG have enjoyed good relations despite the fallout after the independence referendum and Kirkuk events.

The Russian company announced in December it will continue developing $400 million worth of projects in the Kurdistan Region, citing high-quality reserves, and valuable terms which benefit their shareholders.

Hours after Kirkuk fell, the UK government asked British Petroleum to begin work at oil fields there.

BP owns 20 percent of Rosneft's stock.

Re: Kurdistan Oil & Gas Development

PostPosted: Tue Feb 06, 2018 7:51 pm
Author: Anthea
Compromise is key to Kurdistan oil recovery
Alan Mohtadi

Relations between the Kurdistan regional government (KRG) and the central government of Iraq have been at an all-time low since the KRG’s independence referendum in September 2017.

The central government imposed strict punishment measures in addition to taking control of the Kirkuk oilfields from KRG. The government of the Prime Minister Haider Al Abadi imposed a flight ban over the Kurdistan region, so no international flights can fly directly to KRG’s international airports in Erbil and Sulimaniyah. The relations between both capitals have been strained since 2014 over budget and oil issues, but the latest events turned the already bad relations even more sour.

But there is a possibility to not only save the relations between Erbil and Baghdad, but also to come to a long-term and sustainable agreement. The Iraqi election is scheduled for May later this year and the United States and the international community prefer to have Mr Al Abadi re-elected instead of the much more sectarian Nuri Al Maliki, a former Iraq prime minister who is seen as the most prominent among other runners for the top post. The US is also aware that for Iraq to not totally fall apart, any new government needs the backing of the Kurds.

Since the seizure of Kirkuk and its surrounding oilfields by the central government, crude production from Kirkuk has fallen from 450,000 barrels a day to around 150,000 barrels a day.

Despite the decline, in January the British energy major BP signed a memorandum of understanding with the Iraqi government to ramp up production to 750,000 barrels a day. The Iraqi Oil Minister Jabbar Al Luaibi even hinted that Baghdad would build a separate pipeline that will bypass the KRG pipeline.

But there are several obstacles that would be very difficult to make this feasible. First of all, if Baghdad were to build a separate pipeline it would take a minimum of two years to complete. Secondly, Kirkuk is a disputed territory and contested by both the central government and the KRG so even if the central government were to bypass the KRG, it would still be a political flashpoint for years to come without some form of revenue sharing deal. It is neither in the interest of Baghdad, the KRG or British petroleum to have the majority of Kirkuk’s production stranded. But there is an option for a revenue sharing deal that would be a win-win for both Baghdad and Erbil and which would also please the US who would prefer to see Mr Al Abadi re-elected with the support of the Kurds.

This option would require a political deal between the KRG and Mr Al Abadi prior to the Iraqi elections. That would also need concessions from both parties. With the loss of Kirkuk and half of the revenues it generated, KRG currently controls around 350,000 bpd of crude production, including the Khurmala dome concession which was awarded to the Kurdistan focused firm KAR group in 2008 by the Iraqi ministry of oil. Khurmala is part of the Kirkuk formation but lies outside Kirkuk Governorate.

KRG has been struggling to pay its public employees after Baghdad stopped paying it its share of the budget in 2014. Also, with the loss of Kirkuk fields' current 350,000 bpd output means there is not enough money to pay KRG civil servants. Furthermore KRG has stacked up billions of dollars in debts to Turkey, oil trading houses and international oil companies. So what can be done to end this stalemate?

There is an option that would benefit both sides: to restart crude flow from Kirkuk and export it through the existing KRG-Ceyhan pipeline selling the oil via Iraq’s state oil marketing group SOMO. The revenue Iraq would generate from the Kirkuk export could then be used to pay KRG's civil servants.

Iraq’s North Oil Company, which operates the fields in Kirkuk, could ramp up production immediately to 450,000 bpd by using the existing pipeline to Ceyhan. Furthermore the central government and the KRG could share the crude from Khurmala; Baghdad could export half of Khurmala's current production of 105,000 bpd to Ceyhan pushing total Iraqi northern exports to 500,000 bpd. The KRG, on the other hand, could use the rest of the crude from Khurmala to feed its refineries.

Kurdistan based KAR could still operate Khurmala as per the agreement with the Iraqi oil ministry from 2008 but the crude would be divided between the central government and the KRG.

KRG would still produce and sell the oil from the fields in the Kurdistan region independently, and thus still be committed to repaying back its debts and pay international oil companies operating in Kurdistan region - thereby freeing the central government of the debts KRG has picked up over the past couple of years.

Both Baghdad and KRG would get to utilise the Kurdistan pipeline and that would drive costs of the pipeline lower. It would also give the central government and KRG leverage against Turkey, especially when it comes to water, river and dam issues. A sustainable deal with the central government would de-risk the Kurdistan oil industry and international oil companies would likely increase their investments in the industry, enabling KRG to ramp up production from fields under its control, get higher prices for its oil and better leverage with its suppliers. It would also provide cash to pay KRG salaries.

In October, Rosneft bought 60 per cent of Kurdistan’s crude pipeline and committed to upgrade the pipelines capacity to 1 million barrels a day from about 350,000 now. BP owns 20 per cent in Rosneft, so a deal between KRG and the central government would be in the interest of both oil majors as well. It would also be in the interest of the US to have both its allies cooperate in the post-ISIL era.

Any deal would require painful concessions and bold steps by both parties but it would stabilise a country that has gone through some extremely tough years.

Alan Mohtadi is head of T&S Consulting Energy and security, which specialises in in advising companies working in Kurdistan oil and gas sector ... y-1.702203

Re: Kurdistan Oil & Gas Development

PostPosted: Wed Feb 07, 2018 1:55 pm
Author: Anthea
Iraqi army moves to secure planned oil route to Iran
Reuters Staff

KIRKUK, Iraq (Reuters) - Iraqi forces launched a security operation along a planned oil transit route to Iran on Wednesday, saying it was clearing and “destroying sleeper cells” in the mountainous border area where two armed groups operate.

Iraqi oil officials announced in December plans to transport Kirkuk crude by truck to Iran’s Kermanshah refinery. The trucking was to start last week and officials declined to give reasons for the delay other than it was technical in nature.

“With the goal of enforcing security and stability, destroying sleeper cells, and continuing clearing operations, an operation was launched in the early hours of this morning to search and clear areas east of Tuz Khurmato,” the Iraqi armed forces said in a statement.

The operation is being conducted by the Iraqi army’s 9th armored division, the interior ministry’s elite Emergency Response Division, and Iran-backed militias known as the Popular Mobilisation Forces (PMF), with air support from the U.S.-led anti-Islamic State coalition and in coordination with Kurdish Peshmerga fighters, the military said.

Sources within the PMF said there were between 200 and 500 fighters, belonging to remnants of Islamic State and a newly emerging militant group known as the White Banners. Other security sources said the militants numbered between 500 and 1,000.

The White Banners fighters are believed to come from Kurdish populations displaced when Iraqi government forces and Iranian-backed Shi‘ite paramilitary took over areas around Kirkuk and Tuz Khurmato in October, according to Hisham al-Hashimi, a security analyst in Baghdad.

“The White Banners have no connection to Daesh nor to the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG),” he said, referring to the semi-autonomous Kurdish authorities in northern Iraq, he said.

Iraqi military officials acknowledge the existence of a group called White Banners but refuse to comment on its composition or leadership. The KRG has “strictly no relations whatsoever”’ with this group, a Kurdish official told Reuters.

Trucking crude oil to Iran was agreed under a swap agreement announced in December by the two countries, to allow a resumption of oil exports from Kirkuk.

Iraq and Iran have agreed to swap up to 60,000 barrels per day of crude produced from Kirkuk for Iranian oil to be delivered to southern Iraq.

Kirkuk crude sales have been halted since Iraqi forces took back control of the fields from the Kurds in October.

Kurdish forces took control of Kirkuk in 2014, when the Iraqi army collapsed, overwhelmed by Islamic State’s capture of large parts of Iraq. The Kurdish move prevented the militants from seizing the region’s oilfields.

Iraq declared victory over Islamic State in December, after taking back all the territory captured by the militants in 2014 and 2015. A U.S.-led coalition provided key support to the Iraqi forces, especially in the battle to dislodge them from Mosul, their de facto capital in northern Iraq, in July.

Reporting by Mustafa Mahmoud; Writing by Ahmed Aboulenein; Editing by Maher Chmaytelli and Raissa Kasolowsky ... SKBN1FR0X0

Re: Kurdistan Oil & Gas Development

PostPosted: Thu Feb 08, 2018 8:17 pm
Author: Anthea
Iraq signs contract to open new refinery in Kirkuk

Iraq’s oil ministry signed a contract with Ranya International to build a refinery with the production capacity of 70,000 bpd in Kirkuk province.

The contract was signed on Thursday in the presence of Iraqi Oil Minister Jabbar al-Luaibi.

“Mr. Minister reiterated that the establishment of the Kirkuk refinery is a good first step for investment in the refinery sector to cover internal demand in the province and adjacent neighbors,” read an official statement published by the ministry on Thursday.

The minister added that the project falls into the plans and programs by the ministry for meeting the internal demand of oil derivatives, while exporting the surplus.

“The signing of the contract complements the efforts of the ministry to develop the oil industry in the Kirkuk province,” Luaibi added.

Other refineries are set to be established as a part of strategic projects by the ministry to increase national production of oil derivatives.

“This will increase financial income of the Iraqi state’s treasury,” Ziya Jaffar, the counselor to the ministry added.

Ranya International is a company based in the Kurdistan Region, according to Reuters.

The Kurdistan Regional Government’s (KRG) revenues have been slashed by about half since the loss of Kirkuk, further worsening the Region’s financial crisis caused by Iraqi budget cuts since early 2014, low oil prices, and the war against ISIS.

Iraq has banned the Erbil-based KAR group that operated a number of oil fields of Kirkuk X(

The Kurdistan Regional Government and the Iraqi federal government are locked in a stalemate over the 2018 budget. The KRG demands the return of its 17-percent budget share, while Iraq is proposing a 12.6 share, which the International Monetary Fund has said isn’t sufficient.

Re: Kurdistan Oil & Gas Development

PostPosted: Sun Feb 11, 2018 4:29 pm
Author: Anthea
Kirkuk’s Oil Chessboard – The Cairo Review of Global Affairs

It was late at night in November 2017 when Sweden-based oil trader Samir Madani noticed something strange about the oil tanker he was tracking. Madani is a co-founder of, a website that provides data on the movement and storage of oil around the world. The tanker he was following, named VALTAMED, had loaded oil at a port in Ceyhan, Turkey. The VALTAMED sailed south toward the Suez Canal. Unexpectedly, it stopped in international waters off the coast of Tel Aviv, where it turned off its AIS transponder.

The lines of ownership of oil are almost always clear today. With very few exceptions—the occasional contraband shipment to North Korea, the Niger Delta Avengers militant group sabotaging oil supplies in Nigeria, and a power vacuum in Libya—the ownership of a barrel of oil can be tracked from its time in the ground to the well, to the pipeline, to the tanker, and all the way to the refinery. Madani had stumbled on a mystery.

Madani observed a change in the VALTAMED’s draught, or the distance between the waterline and the bottom of the tanker’s hull, and concluded that the VALTAMED, which was carrying nearly 1 million barrels of oil from the Kurdistan region of Iraq, was clandestinely transferring oil to Israel. The delivery was not logged. The VALTAMED remained in the dark for ten days off the coast of Israel before it finally reactivated its transponder and sailed north toward Cyprus. Over the next several days the ship sat empty until it finally returned to Ceyhan to pick up another cargo of oil from northern Iraq. This was the first of several clandestine oil shipments that Madani and observed in the same place that month.

There had to be a good reason for the secrecy, because when an oil tanker turns off its AIS transponder it invalidates the insurance it has on that shipment of oil. This action represents an extreme tactic derided by risk managers, leaving such valuable cargo without insurance. This was not the only oil heading from Ceyhan to Israel. In fact, the data from showed that between September 25 and December 13, Israel received over 36,000 barrels of oil per day from Ceyhan, making it the third-largest recipient after Greece and Croatia.

Madani and had been paying particular attention to oil flowing out of the Kirkuk-Ceyhan pipeline, a 600-mile pipeline that runs northwest through Iraqi Kurdistan. The pipeline crosses into Turkey right at the junction of Iraq, Syria, and Turkey before making a sharp westerly turn and continuing to Ceyhan, a small Turkish port city on the Mediterranean Sea.

The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) built the pipeline in 2013. It was designed specifically to transport Kirkuk’s oil out of Iraq through territory occupied and defended by the KRG and not the Iraqi government. In the autumn of 2017, was focused on the oil shipments from this specific pipeline to provide a clearer picture of how the Kurdish independence vote and reaction from the Iraqi government was affecting the flow of oil from the city of Kirkuk. Measuring the flow of oil would also provide some idea of whether the KRG or the Iraqi government controlled the oilfields. Control over the flow of oil was not just a sign of financial gain, but it also indicated political power. The flow of Kirkuk’s oil is a central interest, and highlights the essential economic motivations behind the diplomatic and military efforts of a half-dozen powerful parties in the Middle East.

The Stakes on the Board

After Saddam Hussein’s government was toppled in 2003, control of Kirkuk’s oil became a contest between the Iraqi government and the KRG. If the KRG could control the oil, it would gain an important economic and political tool in its quest for Kurdish autonomy and perhaps independence. On the other hand, if Iraq’s central government could control Kirkuk’s oil, it could solidify itself as the country’s sole power and secure the economic and political unity of Iraq.

Until 2013, the Iraqi government appeared to have the upper hand. In 2013, however, a third power—ISIS—destabilized the Iraqi state and sought control of oil resources for its caliphate. Kirkuk was caught in the middle and the KRG seized this moment to wrest control of Kirkuk’s oilfields from the Iraqi government.

In 2017, with ISIS militarily defeated in the region, the fight between the KRG and the Iraqi government resumed—but with even higher stakes. Since the end of 2017, regional powers like Iran, Israel, and Turkey all have had economic and political interests in Kirkuk’s oil. Russia, Saudi Arabia, and large international oil companies have financial and political interests at play as well. They all care about who controls Kirkuk’s oil, how it is used, and where it goes.

Some of the parties are striving for control of Kirkuk’s oil today, because they need it to generate revenue for their governments. Other parties seek to consume that oil, while others seek influence as investors. Some merely want to see the oil controlled by a political or business ally. One group wants to reap the financial benefits of transporting it while others need the oil to create an image of political power.

In this board game, political enemies sometimes find themselves to be business allies. Traditional opponents can become partners. In a region now experienced in upheaval and territorial disputes, the competition over Kirkuk’s oil is an extreme example of the struggle for natural resources, with countries, regional powers, terrorist groups, and international businesses—neighbors, allies, and enemies—each pursuing their own goals. Instead of ideology, tribalism, or power politics, the struggle for this section of northern Iraq is driven by economics.

“Baba Gurgur” the Father Fire of Kirkuk

Oil was officially discovered in Kirkuk in 1927, although hints of the oilfields had been seeping through the northern Iraqi earth since biblical times. According to historian Michael Quentin Moore, geologists had observed oil seeping into the riverbed of the Tigris River before the Turkish Petroleum Company (later renamed the Iraq Petroleum Company) decided to drill several wells in northern Iraq to see what lay below the surface. The fourth of these test wells was drilled near Kirkuk and called “Baba Gurgur,” meaning “father of fire.”

The name came from the fires that burned continuously on the oil and gas bubbling out of the ground. The geologists drilled at a rate of only 20 feet per day, so they were surprised that after just three months they had reached limestone. At this point they stopped, cemented the well, and then switched to percussion drilling.

At three o’clock in the morning of October 14, 1927, when the crew retrieved the drill bit, oil and gas burst out. The spray of oil was so high that it shot above the 140-foot oil derrick and covered not only the drillers but everything in a 400-yard radius. Very quickly it became clear that if the geologists did not stop the fountain of oil pouring out of Baba Gurgur, it would overflow the nearby wadi and contaminate the city of Kirkuk’s water supply.

Capping the well was a challenge, and it spilled 95,000 barrels of oil per day before drillers finally brought it under control. Over the next year, the company drilled other wells and established that an oilfield approximately 30 miles in length ran underneath the shallow layer of rock below the Kirkuk region. Later, that field was determined to hold about 12 billion barrels of oil, making it one of the world’s supergiant oilfields.

Production from the Kirkuk field did not begin in earnest until 1934, largely due to conflicts between the Iraq Petroleum Company’s various shareholders and because transportation to refineries and ports in Haifa and Tripoli required the construction of a new pipeline. The Iraq Petroleum Company operated the field until 1972, when the government of Iraq nationalized all of Iraq’s oil resources.

A Snapshot of Kirkuk

The city of Kirkuk is located approximately 150 miles north of Baghdad and, besides its oil wealth, has long been known for its multi-ethnic population. Iraqi Turkmen, Kurds, and Arabs all have significant populations in the city.

From the 1970s onward, Kirkuk’s oil fell under the jurisdiction of the Iraqi National Oil Company (INOC) until 1989, and was then broken into regional companies and handed to the North Oil Company, which was headquartered in the city and was an Iraqi state-owned company. After the 1991 Gulf War, strict limits were placed on Iraq’s oil exports, though the country was able to export several billion dollars’ worth of oil through an oil-for-food agreement reached in 1996.

When the United States invaded Iraq in 2003, Kirkuk, with its giant oilfield, was one of the first targets. Plans which originally called for the 4th Infantry Division to enter Iraq through Turkey to take Kirkuk were cancelled when Turkey refused to allow American troops transit rights. Instead, Kurdish forces working with a few U.S. Special Forces began their attack on April 9, 2003 and soon found themselves joined by Kirkuk’s own Kurdish population.

This catalyzed an internal uprising that forced Iraqi troops to flee the city. By the afternoon, Kurdish Peshmerga forces had captured the city, and, with it, an oilfield that could produce up to 900,000 barrels of oil per day.

In 2003, the Kurds, or specifically forces led by Jalal Talabani of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, suddenly found themselves in control of a city outside of the territory that had been technically designated as the Kurdish autonomous region after the Gulf War. However, the Kurds did not maintain control, and Kirkuk was not annexed into the formal Kurdistan semi-autonomous region. The KRG shortly relinquished control of Kirkuk to the Iraqi government. Although the KRG had some of northern Iraq’s oil resources under its control, without Kirkuk and its vast oilfields, economic independence could not be assured at the time.

Oil Chess Games and the Rise of ISIS

After the toppling of Saddam Hussein’s government, with the oil ministry in shambles, Iraq’s total oil production dipped as low as 1.3 million barrels per day from its pre-invasion high of 3.5 million barrels per day. As stability and security returned to Iraq in 2007 and 2008, total Iraqi oil production rose to 2.4 million barrels per day. Nevertheless, the Iraqi oil operation as a whole lacked the investment and expertise needed to repair damaged infrastructure. Even with better security, insurgent attacks on oil facilities and pipelines continued to hurt the oil industry. Other issues hampering the Iraqi oil industry included corruption, lack of appropriate legislation and regulation, and disagreements with the Kurdish population represented by the KRG.

In 2008 and 2009, the Iraqi oil ministry began offering contracts to foreign companies to operate existing oilfields or develop new assets. Although many foreign companies stayed away due to security concerns, BP and China National Petroleum Company (CNPC) did sign contracts. Meanwhile, the KRG signed agreements with ExxonMobil and Chevron. The invitations to outside oil firms were controversial as no foreign oil company had been involved in Iraqi oil resources since their nationalization in 1972, but they were also necessary for Iraq to raise its oil output and therefore its revenue.

After clamoring for the right to export oil in Kurdish territories on their own and make their own contracts with foreign oil companies, the KRG finally signed an accord with the Iraqi government that permitted the KRG to export 100,000 barrels per day from specific fields. Some 73 percent of the revenue would be designated to the Iraqi government, 15 percent to the KRG, and 12 percent to any foreign oil companies with which the KRG signed contracts. The agreement also allowed for future increases in oil exports. The Kirkuk field, however, was not one of the fields designated for Kurdish control.

In the years before the rise of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), in the words of one Iraqi government official, Kirkuk languished as a “no man’s land.” According to a 2013 S&P Global Platts interview with the chairman of the local Kirkuk Governing Council’s committee on oil and gas, Kirkuk’s oil was stuck in limbo because the Kirkuk Governing Council believed that Iraq’s constitution gave it the right to be involved in all decisions related to oil and gas. The Kirkuk Governing Council was unhappy with the Iraqi oil ministry’s unilateral decision to grant BP a contract to do preliminary technical work on assessing Kirkuk’s oilfield and the development needed to increase its production.

The local Kirkuk government thought it was in the midst of a bidding process when the Iraqi oil ministry announced the contract with BP. The local council had hoped to attract the highest bids from ExxonMobil, Total, and Chevron. Some of these companies had already signed production-sharing contracts with the KRG for Kurdish-controlled oilfields near Kirkuk. However, the Iraqi government refused to recognize these Kurdish contracts. Kirkuk was stuck between a neglectful national government that had devoted most of its focus to Iraq’s southern oil resources and an autonomous Kurdish government looking to expand its power, influence, and control over Iraq’s northern oil resources.

The tug of war over Kirkuk’s oil might have been resolved through negotiation had another force not burst onto the scene in 2014. ISIS emerged in January in Fallujah. From there, ISIS expanded rapidly in Iraq, taking control of Mosul only six months later. To the KRG, based in Erbil, just east of Mosul and north of Kirkuk, it appeared that ISIS was bearing down on Kirkuk.

On June 13, the Kurdish Peshmerga advanced into Kirkuk, occupying the city as the Iraqi army retreated in the face of the advancing ISIS forces. Even though Kirkuk was officially outside of the area allotted to the KRG, the Peshmerga held Kirkuk for nearly three and a half years and the KRG fought to keep that city’s oil out of the hands of ISIS.

It was known, in 2014, that ISIS was funding itself through the illicit production, transportation, refining, and sale of oil. However, the depth and complexity of its oil operation were not generally understood until late in 2016, when the public was shown files seized during a 2015 U.S. military operation to kill Abu Sayyaf, the ISIS operative in charge of oil logistics. Matthew Reed, a D.C. analyst, examined the public documents at length to better understand how the ISIS oil operation worked and how the organization managed to make between $40 and $50 million per month in oil revenue. According to Reed’s research, ISIS controlled at least 253 oil wells in both Iraq and Syria before the May 2015 strike that killed Abu Sayyaf.

The material seized from Abu Sayyaf revealed what had likely been obvious to the Kurdish forces on the frontline—that ISIS was running a surprisingly sophisticated oil operation in which skilled oil professionals oversaw the operation of wells, pipelines, and refineries. In 2014, even though Peshmerga forces occupied Kirkuk and some of the surrounding areas, ISIS oil was being run through the city on its way across the border to Iran. ISIS tried several times to capture the Baiji Refinery, Kirkuk’s largest, and multiple times attacked the pipeline that transported oil from Kirkuk to the Turkish port of Ceyhan.

Eventually, ISIS managed to knock out 80 percent of the Iraqi leg of the pipeline. By September 2014, oil output from Kirkuk was down to only 90,000 barrels per day, a 90 percent drop from earlier that year.

The KRG ignored its oil disputes with the Iraqi government and simply struck out on its own. Iraq lacked the power to stop the KRG from making its own oil deals. In an agreement that seemed to defy traditional understandings of Middle Eastern allies and enemies, the KRG signed a contract with Turkey to cover the transportation and sale of its oil through the Ceyhan port. Despite the historical and continued animosity between the KRG and the Turkish government, Turkey arranged for the KRG to receive payment from the sale directly, and not through the Iraqi government.

In another unusual pairing, the first barrels of oil sold under this new arrangement went to Israel, which had terrible relations with Turkey at the time but was close to the KRG. Although Turkey could have theoretically shut down KRG oil sales to Israel, the country was more interested in the economic benefits of transporting KRG oil than in its geopolitical relationships.

With this new Turkish agreement in hand, the KRG decided to build a series of pipelines that ran entirely through its own territory. These pipelines bypassed the section of the Kirkuk-Ceyhan pipeline that was vulnerable. It hooked into the main pipeline at the border with Turkey.

Throughout 2016, the United States bombed ISIS oil assets and targeted the ISIS commander at its helm. The organization’s oil revenue dropped precipitously as a result. The combined ground offenses against ISIS from the Iraqi army, American advisors, Kurdish forces, and Shia militias made slow progress in Iraq. ISIS demolished or ignited oil assets as it retreated. Mosul was a particularly devastating example. The battle for the city lasted nine months, and ISIS torched so many oil wells that sheep grazing in the surrounding territory turned black.

The Great Oil Game

While Iraq was busy negotiating the details of a deal to cut oil production with its fellow Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) members in November 2016, the Kurds were just as busy looking for ways to increase oil production in northern Iraq. Even after Iraq agreed to an OPEC quota of 4.351 million barrels per day, the KRG signed an agreement with Rosneft in which the Russian oil company would invest billions of dollars in the KRG oil industry and export Kurdish oil to refineries in Europe. Commodities analysts questioned whether Iraq could honestly commit to the OPEC quota given its lack of control over northern oil.

By the summer of 2017, the KRG had expanded the territory under its control by about 40 percent. With Kirkuk, the oil reserves under Kurdish control grew from 6 percent to 20 percent of Iraq’s total. In 2016, the Kurds pumped 544,600 barrels per day—12 percent of Iraq’s total oil production. Out of Kirkuk alone, the Kurds were pumping between 350,000 and 400,000 barrels per day. Tensions between the Iraqi government and the KRG rose as the KRG refused to relinquish Kirkuk and its oil.

To complicate matters, on June 7, 2017, the KRG announced that in September it would hold a referendum on independence for its semi-autonomous region and also for additional territories including the Kirkuk region. Multiple attempts were made to dissuade the KRG from holding this vote, and yet all of the pieces needed for independence seemed aligned. The common goal of fighting ISIS had seemingly united disparate Kurdish parties. It had a strong army, hardened by years of fighting ISIS militants and bolstered with U.S. military equipment. The KRG controlled 28.5 billion barrels of oil—more than Nigeria—and it had the means to independently export and sell it.

With so much oil, a fledgling country like Kurdistan could build an economy.

On September 25, 2017, the people of Iraqi Kurdistan voted to seek independence. When the prime minister of Iraq called the vote “a strategic and historic mistake,” he also called for the KRG to turn over revenue from the sale of Kirkuk’s oil. As expected, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan threatened to impose a severe blockade. Erdoğan easily could have halted the KRG’s primary source of income and stifled the Kurdish economy just by refusing to load the KRG’s oil into tankers at the Ceyhan port. However, to the surprise of many, he did not.

This was when started watching the KRG berths in Ceyhan. It wanted to observe if Turkey would follow through on its threat. However, the data showed that Kurdish oil, including oil from Kirkuk, continued to flow unimpeded through Turkey with sales mostly to customers in Greece, Israel, Poland, Cyprus, and Croatia.

On October 17, three weeks after the independence referendum, the Iraqi government, with the support of Iranian-backed Shia militias, entered the city of Kirkuk and swiftly took control of its airport, military base, and multiple oil facilities. The ease with which Iraqi forces recaptured Kirkuk from Kurdish forces confounded most in the West who were not familiar with finer points of intra-Kurdish politics. Essentially, one powerful Kurdish party abandoned its posts. The group was accused of selling out the KRG to the Iraqi government in a deal orchestrated by Iran before Iraqi forces even marched on Kirkuk. The KRG lost control of Kirkuk’s oil.

During the battle and in its immediate aftermath, commodities analysts were looking for signs of whether the production and distribution of Kirkuk oil had been disrupted. Oil markets barely reacted, because there was a lack of evidence of an immediate disruption. With Iraq quickly regaining control of Kirkuk oil, the government had to decide how to transport it to sell. The government did not want to use the KRG bypass and the original pipeline was still out of commission. As a result, the Iraqi government decreased production. Several days after Iraqi forces retook Kirkuk the flow of oil was down to only 200,000 barrels per day from 600,000 barrels per day.

On October 25, the KRG officially suspended the referendum results. The Iraqi government restarted oil production in Kirkuk the next day and sent only 90,000 barrels per day through the Kurdish pipelines to Ceyhan. According to port agents in Ceyhan, that oil was marked for sale by SOMO, the Iraqi government’s marketing group. The flow of oil from assets still held by the KRG was also temporarily halted, but it resumed by October 30, according to port agents in Ceyhan.

Fifteen days later, on November 14, observed the first clandestine shipments of KRG oil from the Ceyhan port. The explanation given for the clandestine nature of the transfers is that Baghdad had threatened legal action against customers of KRG oil from Ceyhan. Turning off the AIS transponders officially “hides” the transaction. However, satellite imagery revealed an Israeli refinery in Ashkelon received most of that oil. It is also unclear whether the Iraqi government could effectively fine any supposed violators.

Oil flow through the Ceyhan pipeline was still running at decreased levels. Indeed, the Iraqi government seemed to lack a clear plan for how to exploit one of the highest potential oilfields in the world. First, it announced it would divert Kirkuk’s oil to refineries in Iraq, though the refineries it has are not well-equipped to process that oil. Then, in an abrupt turn of events, Iraq announced that Kirkuk oil would shortly be trucked over the border to Iran and sold to Iranian refineries.

Fate of the Father Fire

The fate of Kirkuk’s oil has yet to be resolved as the players continue to vie for influence over this single resource. Control of this oil is crucial for political control and influence within Iraq. Though the government in Baghdad appears to have a slight upper hand, another period of political instability could easily return control to the KRG or a rogue group. The immediate players, the KRG and the Iraqi government, are not the only ones with stakes in the game. A host of secondary and tertiary players are all pursuing their own economic and political interests. As has been evident, these interests are not always clear-cut. In many cases, energy business interests and geopolitical interests directly contradict each other.

The KRG’s interest in Kirkuk’s oil is fairly straightforward. Even though Kirkuk was not part of the original semi-autonomous Kurdish region, the KRG clearly, if not legitimately under Iraqi law, held and exploited Kirkuk’s oil until recently. If the KRG could regain control of Kirkuk oil, it would obtain a large revenue source and enough money to sustain a government and to serve as a foundation for a new economy.

In terms of prospects, the KRG is left with only two avenues for leverage over Kirkuk’s oil. It can attempt to retake Kirkuk militarily from the Iraqi forces (an unlikely move given the internal disputes and fragmentation of the KRG since losing Kirkuk) or it can negotiate a new revenue-sharing deal with the Iraqi government. In December 2017, Argus Media and Reuters reported that the Iraqi government proposed a respective 12 and 12.6 percent revenue-sharing plan with the KRG. This is less than the pre-ISIS revenue-sharing plan and, not surprisingly, the KRG said it was not interested.

ISIS, though largely destroyed and defeated in Iraq, serves as an important lesson on the vulnerability of Iraqi’s oil resources. The organization’s primary oil interests were revenue and sabotage. Its ability to quickly establish a sophisticated network of oil production, transport, and illicit sales could easily be reproduced by a future militant organization and used to fund nefarious practices in Iraq or elsewhere. A different rogue group could seize control and exploit the oil for its own economic purposes, perhaps to fund its own activities.

The Iraqi government has the most to lose in the fight for control over Kirkuk’s oil. Its primary interest is revenue, coupled with the long-term goal of increasing production from the Kirkuk field to its potential. Iraq hopes that the Kirkuk field could soon produce 1 million barrels of oil per day, with the necessary investment, pressure maintenance, and repairs to its infrastructure. At the same time, Iraq must keep Kirkuk’s oil out of the hands of the KRG and any terrorist organization to prevent them from receiving the revenue.

Controlling and exploiting Kirkuk’s oil is also a sign of the Iraqi government’s sovereignty and power, something it sorely needs to project after years of instability and weakness. Iraq’s sudden desire to sell Kirkuk’s oil to Iran might not be the optimal solution for the Iraqi government but it would effectively prevent the KRG or a terrorist organization from financing themselves.

The Iraqi government’s prospects for maintaining control of Kirkuk’s oil seem promising, but it is unclear if it will be able to entice foreign companies to return to the area given the geopolitical risks. BP, which was originally contracted for minor technical studies pre-ISIS, has been mentioned by the Iraqi government as a potential partner, but plans have not progressed beyond BP’s commitment to study ways of boosting Kirkuk’s capacity.

Though Iran is a major oil producer in its own right, the country seems to have taken a very keen interest in Iraqi oil, and particularly Kirkuk’s oil. Iran’s oil industry suffered during the sanctions regime as necessary repairs to aging fields were neglected. After sanctions were relaxed in 2016, Iran was able to jumpstart its oil production but could not keep producing at a high rate. Oil production has fallen off, and Iran continues to suffer shortages in refined products. It cannot supply its population with enough gasoline and diesel fuel. Iran has made overtures to the Iraqi government and has entered into an agreement to ship 30,000 to 60,000 barrels per day of oil from Kirkuk to refineries in Iran by truck. The two governments have further agreed to build a pipeline to connect Kirkuk’s oilfields with an Iranian refinery just over the border. This will be the cornerstone of a larger oil swap, in which Kirkuk’s oil will travel to Iran via a pipeline and Iraq will receive oil from Iran at its facilities in southern Iraq.

Iran’s motivation to secure access to Kirkuk’s oil is economically driven. It seems that Iran is logistically unable to supply its northern refineries with crude oil or requires the specific grade of crude oil that Kirkuk produces. The pipeline, which would take at least two years to build, and the crude oil swap deal are both evidence of Iran’s long-term interest in northern Iraq’s oil industry.

A long-term crude oil swap contract would intertwine the Iraqi and Iranian oil industries to a great extent. In many ways their oil policies would be united. Together, Iraq’s and Iran’s oil reserves rival those of oil giant Saudi Arabia, and combined they could present a challenge to Saudi Arabia’s de facto control over OPEC policy. Even though OPEC makes decisions by consensus, Saudi oil minister Khalid Al-Falih uses Saudi Arabia’s larger production capacity and massive reserves to persuade and compel smaller oil-producing countries to agree to Saudi-friendly policies within OPEC. Iranian oil minister Bijan Namdar Zangeneh would love to have the kind of influence Al-Falih has, and with Iraq’s oil, Iran could challenge Saudi Arabia within OPEC in the coming years.

An integrated Iraqi–Iranian oil industry would give Iran an influential voice in OPEC, and it would establish Iran as a valuable partner in the oil industry. Iran has struggled to attract foreign companies to partner with the National Iranian Oil Company on oil projects since sanctions ended. With greater influence in the oil market and a say over Iraq’s oil resources, Iran might be able to attract better partners despite the risks of doing business with Iran.

Iran’s prospects depend largely on whether the Iraqi government maintains control over Kirkuk and is able to subdue Kurdish nationalism. If so, Iran’s role in helping the Iraqi government secure its control will give Iran significant geopolitical influence over Iraq. Pipelines physically connecting both oil industries would certainly cement this relationship. Still, a pipeline is at least two years away.

Turkey might throw a wrench into Iran’s plans. Despite vehement opposition to Kurdish independence in northern Iraq, Turkey did more than any other country to improve the KRG’s strength between 2014 and 2017. Turkey has profited from the KRG’s oil and, specifically during that period, from the KRG’s Kirkuk oil. However, Turkey does not necessarily need the KRG to control Kirkuk to continue benefiting from Kirkuk’s oil; it only needs to make sure that the oil is not going to Iran. Turkey has made it clear that it prioritizes revenue over ethnic or political stands in this arena.

Even as Baghdad continues negotiations with Iran, the Iraqi government ordered the repair of the original Kirkuk–Ceyhan pipeline. If Turkey can entice Iraq to rebuild the destroyed sections of the Ceyhan–Kirkuk pipeline, it will be able to bypass its former business partners, the Kurds, and continue to profit off of the sale of northern Iraq’s oil.

Meanwhile, Israel is watching to see if a major source of oil will be cut off. Access to crude oil has always been a challenge for Israel, because most of the nearby suppliers refuse to sell to it. Gasoline in Israel is very expensive as a result. Since 2015, it is believed that Israel has received as much as 77 percent of its oil from the KRG. These numbers actually could be higher because of the clandestine shipments like those discovered by

If Kirkuk oil is permanently diverted to Iran, Israel would suffer the loss of an important source of crude oil. Is this enough for Israel to support any effort by the KRG to retake Kirkuk? The prospect is unlikely but not impossible.

With Iraq’s recapture of Kirkuk, Saudi Arabia has suddenly renewed its interest in Iraq’s oil industry. The Saudi government is looking to strengthen its geopolitical relationship with the Iraqi government and present itself as an alternative to Iran. Generally, the Saudis seek security along their northern border from bad actors in Iraq and are looking to extend their regional influence beyond the Persian Gulf monarchies. In terms of oil, the Saudis would like to turn Iraq into a reliable partner within OPEC, like Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates, for example. More importantly, Saudi Arabia does not want Iraq’s oil policy to fall under the influence of Tehran.

Iraq also presents Saudi Arabia with investment opportunities. Saudi ARAMCO the Saudi national oil company, is flush with capital and looking for avenues to invest that money. The beleaguered Iraqi oil industry presents an opportunity for the Saudis. ARAMCO has everything Iraq needs—expertise in mature oil reservoir management, connections to the best international oil service providers, logistics support, and a strong management team. Al-Falih traveled to Iraq at the beginning of December and signed eighteen separate memoranda of understanding with Iraq designed to increase cooperation between the Saudi and Iraqi oil industries. Sabic, Saudi Arabia’s partially state-owned petrochemicals manufacturer, confirmed plans to open an office in Iraq as well. So far, Saudi Arabia’s prospects in Iraq have been confined to southern Iraqi oil assets, but if Saudi Arabia is serious about investing in Iraq’s oil industry, Kirkuk will be on Saudi Arabia’s radar. No one in the industry knows more about getting the most out of an aging, low-pressure field than ARAMCO.

Watching this game unfold from the periphery are international oil companies (IOCs) and Russia. Between 2014 and 2016, IOCs pulled out of contracted development projects in northern and central Iraq. ExxonMobil walked away from six exploration areas in the Kurdistan region and Chevron gave up an interest near Erbil in 2015. ExxonMobil cited instability in the Sulaimaniyah region (on the border between Iraq and Iran) as the reason for pulling out of three blocks. These companies will most likely wait to see how the relationship between the KRG and the Iraqi government unfolds before diving back into asset development in Iraq.

American-based IOCs will be hesitant to venture into any Iraqi region with Iranian influence. The U.S. government, for its part, is relatively uninterested and has had a hands-off policy regarding international oil in recent years.

Working directly with the KRG is also a risky proposition, given its internal instability and unsettled oil relations with Baghdad. To enter the region, an IOC would need to commit significant capital and risk the safety of personnel at a time when all IOCs are significantly decreasing their exploration and production activities worldwide. For most IOCs, Iraq just does not present an attractive opportunity at the moment.

Russia, on the other hand, showed a great interest in Iraqi oil under Kurdish control. There is evidence that Russian oil giant Rosneft agreed to finance a $1 billion gas project in Iraqi Kurdistan right before the KRG held its independence referendum. Some sources said that Rosneft’s investments in the Kurdish region topped $4 billion. This comes on top of $1.2 billion that Rosneft lent the KRG to help finance Kurdish oil exports in February 2017. With the Iraqi government controlling Kirkuk’s oil, the question is whether Russia will find as much opportunity.

Once again, parties are coming from near and far to stake their claim on this valuable commodity. Both the KRG and the Iraqi government consider Kirkuk’s oil key to their future economic success. Who controls Kirkuk’s oil, however, reverberates far outside of Iraq’s borders. Regional powers like Israel, Turkey, Iran, and Saudi Arabia all seek to benefit economically from the development, sale, transport, or purchase of Kirkuk’s oil. Even farther outside this Middle Eastern web, major IOCs like BP and Exxon and Russian oil giants like Rosneft wait to see who will win the game.

Ellen R. Wald is an energy historian and a non-resident scholar at the Arabia Foundation in Washington D.C. She also teaches Middle Eastern history and policy at Jacksonville University. She writes a column for and is the author of the forthcoming book Saudi, Inc.: The Arabian Kingdom’s Pursuit of Profit and Power. On Twitter: @EnergzdEconomy. ... hessboard/

Re: Kurdistan Oil & Gas Development

PostPosted: Sun Feb 11, 2018 4:35 pm
Author: Anthea
Dana Gas swings back to profit after Kurdistan settlement

Revenues were also boosted by higher oil prices and higher production in Egypt and Kurdistan

A Dana Gas plant in Kurdistan. Dana, which has struggled to collect receivables fromKurdistan and Egypt over the past four years, collected $466 million from the KRG and$164 million from Egypt last year.

Dubai: UAE energy producer Dana Gas swung to a net profit of $83 million (Dh304.7 million) in 2017 from a net loss of $88 million a year earlier after a $1 billion payment as part of a settlement with the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG).

The company’s revenues were also boosted by higher oil prices and higher production in Egypt and Kurdistan, where the Abu Dhabi-listed producer has its main assets.

However, Dana posted a net loss of $42 million in the fourth quarter of last year, Reuters calculated in the absence of a quarterly breakdown, compared with a $7 million profit in the same period a year earlier.

Profits in the fourth quarter were affected by an impairment charge of $34 million against the Zora gas field in the UAE following the year-end reserve report, the company said in a statement on Sunday.

As part of the Pearl Petroleum consortium, which includes Austria’s OMV, Hungary’s MOL and Germany’s RWE, Dana started a case in 2013 against the KRG in the London Court of Arbitration, accusing it of underpaying for gas liquid production.

The company and its partners reached a financial settlement last August by which the Kurdish government agreed to pay $600 million immediately to the consortium, and $400 million to invest in the development of the region.

Dana, which has struggled to collect receivables from Kurdistan and Egypt over the past four years, collected $466 million from the KRG and $164 million from Egypt last year.

Dana’s cash balance at the end of 2017 amounted to $608 million, more than double the $302 million it had at the end of 2016.

Dana Gas is at the centre of a legal dispute with the holders of a $700 million sukuk, or Islamic bonds, that the company refused to redeem last year on the grounds that the notes were no longer Sharia-compliant and therefore unlawful under UAE law.

Legal proceedings in English and UAE courts are continuing.

In the latest development of the debt dispute, a London High Court judge found again for the creditors earlier this month when he rejected Dana’s attempt to overturn his previous decision that the purchase undertaking, part of the sukuk contract, was valid and enforceable. ... -1.2171767

Re: Kurdistan Oil & Gas Development

PostPosted: Wed Feb 28, 2018 11:13 pm
Author: Anthea
Iraq And Kurds Agree To Restart Kirkuk Exports With Uncertain Timeline
By Zainab Calcuttawala

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi and the Kurdish regime in Erbil have agreed on a plan to restart oil flows from Kirkuk, though neither party revealed the details of a timeline for the new flows, according to a new report by Reuters.

“It was agreed with the Kurdish side to start exporting oil from Kirkuk,” Abadi said during a scheduled press conference. The two sides are scheduled to sort out the details at a later time.

Authorities from the Kurdish Regional Government and Turkey have been conducting other negotiations regarding the Kirkuk-Ceyhan pipeline, which has been defunct since soon after the September 25 referendum on the minority government’s independence. Erbil’s constituents voted to secede from the union, triggering a strong response from Baghdad’s central government to reinstate federal control over oilfields in hands of the Peshmarga army.

Iraq began exporting up to 60,000 bpd of oil from Kirkuk this month to an Iranian refinery across the border via tanker trucks, in exchange for refined oil for southern Iraq, the acting director general of Iraq’s state oil marketing company SOMO, Alaa al-Yasiri, said at the end of January.

In the future, Iraq and Iran plan to build a new pipeline from the Kirkuk field to the border with Iran, to replace the tanker trucks. This suggests that although the initial term of the deal is just one year, there are plans to make it a longer-term deal. Baghdad will transport between 30,000 and 60,000 bpd of Kirkuk crude by tanker trucks to the border with Iran at Kermanshah. In exchange, Iran will supply the same amount of similar-grade crude to Iraq’s south.

SOMO’s crude oil exports had been running at an average rate of 3.5 million bpd in January, Alaa al-Yasiri told reporters at the end of last month. The January exports topped the record exports of 3.535 million bpd from December, Reuters quoted the SOMO official as saying. ... eline.html

Re: Kurdistan Oil & Gas Development

PostPosted: Sun Jun 03, 2018 9:27 pm
Author: Anthea
Iraq and Iran swap Kirkuk oil in strategic boost for Tehran

Iraq and Iran have begun exchanging crude oil, the Iranian oil ministry’s news agency SHANA said on Sunday, in a deal that will position Tehran to expand its interests in its most important Arab ally in the face of growing pressure from Washington.

Crude from the Kirkuk field in northern Iraq is being shipped by truck to Iran. Tehran will use the oil in its refineries and will deliver the same amount of oil to Iraq’s southern ports, on the Gulf.

After helping Iraq stifle a Kurdish push for independence last year, OPEC producer Iran positioned itself to take control of oil exports from the region’s giant Kirkuk field X(

Baghdad agreed for the first time to divert crude from Kirkuk province, which the thieving Arabs STOLE from the Kurds, to Iran, where it will supply a refinery in the city of Kermanshah

The pact is likely to create unease in Saudi Arabia, which along with its ally the United States accuses Iran of trying to dominate the Middle East. Tehran denies the allegations.


Iran is locked in a proxy war with Saudi Arabia that has fuelled instability in the region. As well as Iraq, it has been extending its influence in Syria, Yemen and Lebanon.

Faced with the U.S. withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal, Tehran is expected by analysts to focus on preserving its interests in neighbouring Iraq, where it is competing for influence with Washington.

Iran also faces a challenge from Iraqi Shi’ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr. The nationalist’s bloc secured a stunning victory in last month’s election by tapping growing public discontent with Iran’s sway in Iraq, and appealing to the poor.

Between 30,000 and 60,000 barrels per day (bpd) of Kirkuk crude will be delivered by the tanker trucks to Darreh Shahr in southwestern Iran, SHANA said.

Iraq and Iran plan to build a pipeline to carry the oil from Kirkuk to avoid having to use trucks X(

The swap deal allows Iraq to resume sales of Kirkuk crude, which have been halted since Iraqi forces STIOLE the fields from the Kurds in October 2017.

Even though talks between Baghdad and Tehran have been conducted between oil ministry officials and Chamber of Commerce, Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards are well positioned.

Those dealings are overseen by the desk responsible for Iran’s investments in Iraq at the president’s office and are run by the powerful force. ... KKCN1IZ0V5

Editing by ME :ymdevil:

Re: Kurdistan Oil & Gas Development

PostPosted: Wed Aug 01, 2018 9:22 pm
Author: Anthea
Rosneft to start extracting oil in Kurdistan Region

It is all about the implementation of the contracts signed in October 2017. The entire process is expected to occur till the end of this year. Last autumn, Rosneft concluded a deal with the Kurdistan Regional Government regarding the purchase of shares (80 percent) in five oil deposits. The transaction would amount to $400 million. The total reserves of the fields are estimated at around 670 million barrels.

The Russian company may start mining works in August this year at the oil fields of Batil, Zawita and Chamanke. It is expected that the total production will amount to 180,000 barrels per day, which would mean a 3.4-percent increase in Rosneft’s total output. Nonetheless, these are only some official reports by Kurdish media. But a representative of Rosneft announced that the company intended to operate at the oil deposits of Batil, Zawita, Qastok, Harir-Bejil and Darato.

So Rosneft has intention to implement contracts whose legality has long been questioned by the authorities in Baghdad. Such was the last year’s claim of the Iraqi parliamentary committee on oil and energy. And in January this year, the Secretary General of the Iraqi government announced that the authorities in Baghdad would not accept any deals concluded between Rosneft and the Erbil government. However, the Russian company insists that, in the light of the current Iraqi law, it is entitled to negotiate with both Baghdad and Kurdish autonomy.

Over the past year, Russia has invested $4 billion in the oil and gas sector in Kurdistan, much more than the United States, and it has become the largest foreign investor in northern Iraq. In February this year, Rosneft has announced that it would finance a two-year contract for the purchase of Kurdish oil in advance. In June, another contract was signed, this time for 20 years, according to which, Rosneft was supposed to buy Kurdish oil that will be processed in German refineries.

In fact, Rosneft subsidizes the economy of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG). In 2017, the company paid the government of Iraqi Kurdistan 1.3 billion of advances under a contract for the supply of oil.

The Russians spent a lot of money on purchasing oil, exploiting deposits and controlling oil pipelines that connect the Iraqi Kurdistan with Turkey. Such activities met with a strong opposition from the Baghdad government as it claimed the right to a decisive vote on oil exports from the autonomous Kurdistan region. And he managed to get his own way – in the Autumn 2017, a rapid military operation carried out by the government forces made the Kurds forget about their dreams about both political and economic independence.

The Sechin-governed company has already invested so much in Kurdistan that it does not care about any Iraqi objections anymore. Moreover, Baghdad will not enter into conflict with Russia.

Under the current regulations, Iraqi Kurdistan should sell all the oil extracted on its territory through the Iraqi center. And Baghdad provides the KRG’s budget with a 17-percent profit from the sale of the raw material. And Iraq is likely to apply the same mechanisms while negotiating deals between Rosneft and the KRG.

Re: Kurdistan Oil & Gas Development

PostPosted: Wed Aug 01, 2018 9:45 pm
Author: Anthea
Baghdad owes Kirkuk more than 5 years of petrodollar

Kirkuk, oil, and the petrodollar are a longstanding issue between the Kurdistan Regional Government, locals, and the Government of Iraq.

The Iraqi government hasn’t paid Kirkuk’s its petrodollar share for more than five years, according to a provincial council member, and it suffers from a lack of services because the province doesn’t have funds.

“It has been five years and a month that the Iraqi government hasn’t spent Kirkuk’s petrodollar funds for it, and this has created trouble for the Kirkukis,” Ahmed Askari, head of the Oil and Energy Committee of Kirkuk’s provincial council, told Rudaw.

Askari adds that the atmosphere following October 16 events prevent the people from taking it to the streets to demand their rights.

“The Kirkukis should have been on the streets demanding their rights like the people of Basra, but unfortunately Kirkuk’s situation is such that no one can demonstrate even for basic services,” Askari expressed.

The committee head, who is also a member of the Brotherhood bloc, said the Kurdistan Regional Government spent $10 million monthly for the province, and many “very good” projects were implemented.

The Peshmerga forces moved into the city of Kirkuk in 2014, after the Iraqi Army fled the oil-rich province. The Peshmerga withdrew on October 16, 2017, following an Iraqi offensive.

The province’s oil had been exported by the KRG, and it formed nearly half of all revenues for the Kurdistan Region, as the departure of the Peshmerga resulted in the Kurdistan Region losing access to the oil.

Kirkuk has produced more than 300,000 bpd, and according to Iraqi law, for each sold barrel, Kirkuk gets $5. The KRG had been exporting Kirkuk’s oil through the Ceyhan pipeline, but that stopped after the October events.

Baghdad has welcomed the idea to reopen the pipeline and has said that it will work to implement it.

Amid the growing protests in Iraq, Abadi has ordered the petrodollar shares of many provinces, like Basra and Wasit, be spent to alleviate some of the people’s grievances.

Lack of the petrodollar funds to Kirkuk has caused the city’s services, like trash removal to stop. Electricity also has deteriorated.

The changes have pushed the acting provincial governor, Rakan al-Jabouri, to seek help from the Kurdistan Region for electricity.

Re: Kurdistan Oil & Gas Development

PostPosted: Wed Aug 15, 2018 11:02 pm
Author: Anthea
Turkey Can’t Export Kirkuk Oil Without Kurdistan Deal

Iraq and Turkey must reach a deal with the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) first in order to export oil from the Kirkuk fields in northern Iraq via Turkey, Kurdish officials told local media this week

Around 300,000 bpd of crude oil previously pumped and exported in the Kirkuk province have been shut in since the Iraqi federal government moved in last October to take control over the oil fields in Kirkuk from Kurdish forces.

Before Baghdad seized control of the oil fields, the Kurdistan Region was exporting the crude oil via the Kurdish-operated pipeline to the Ceyhan port on the Turkish Mediterranean coast.

Earlier this week, Iraq’s Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi visited Ankara, where he discussed many issues, including oil exports via Turkey, with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdo?an.

According to the Kurdistan 24 outlet, the two leaders reportedly reached an initial deal to sell Kirkuk’s crude oil via Turkey, possibly through a new pipeline closer to the Syrian border that would cross only a small portion of land controlled by the KRG.

Kurdish officials, however, argue that Turkey and Iraq will need first to strike a deal with Kurdistan before proceeding with plans to export Kirkuk’s oil.

“It is in the best interest of Baghdad to resume the export of Kirkuk’s oil through the Kurdistan Region’s pipeline as they would benefit more from the revenue than the KRG,” Rebwar Talabani, the head of the Kirkuk Provincial Council (KPC), told Kurdistan 24. According to the Kurdish official, it is ‘unrealistic’ to think that Iraq’s federal government could export oil from Kirkuk via the Nineveh province because security and safety concerns persist in the area.

“Turkey and Iraq cannot take any steps regarding Kirkuk’s oil export without first reaching an agreement with the Kurdistan Region. The oil pipeline is completely under the control and protection of the Kurdistan Region,” Bewar Khinsi, an adviser on natural resources to the Kurdistan Region Security Council (KRSC) Chancellor, Masrour Barzani, said.

Last week, KRG’s Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani said that exporting Kirkuk’s oil via Turkey was at the top of the agenda for the talks between Kurdistan and Iraq.

Currently, fields controlled by KRG export around 350,000 bpd via the pipeline to Ceyhan, roughly half its capacity, industry sources told S&P Global Platts last week.

By Tsvetana Paraskova for ... -Deal.html