Russian Energy Firm Boosts the Political Power of Iraq’s Kurds

Di Vincenzo Santo*

(Da Stratfor -19 settembre 2017)

Arbil. The budding relationship between Russian energy firm Rosneft and Iraq’s Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) is closer than ever. The company announced Sept. 18 that it was in the final stages of negotiating a deal with the KRG to finance and build a $1 billion natural gas export pipeline to Turkey. Once complete, the pipeline will transform the way the autonomous region in northern Iraq exports its energy. And its effect on regional politics will be no less dramatic. (…)

With a planned annual capacity of 30 billion cubic meters (98.43 billion cubic feet), the pipeline will be able to transport nearly two-thirds of the total volume of natural gas that Turkey imported last year. Not all of that natural gas would wind up in Turkey; some would likely travel on to markets in southeastern Europe. Even so, the pipeline would boost Turkey’s consumption of natural gas from Iraqi Kurdistan, particularly since Ankara is eager to find alternative sources to reduce its dependence on Iranian and Russian supplies.

The more natural gas Turkey imports from Iraqi Kurdistan, the less leverage Ankara will have over Arbil. Rosneft stands to gain from the new pipeline, too. The firm’s expansion in Iraqi Kurdistan not only dovetails with the Kremlin’s strategy to insinuate itself into as many global hotspots as possible, but it also supports Rosneft’s strategy to compete with Russian natural gas giant Gazprom. (…) Earlier this year Rosneft became the first major oil company to start pre-purchasing Kurdish oil exports, throwing Arbil a financial lifeline. The Russian firm then used the arrangement as a springboard for the pipeline deal, along with an agreement to explore and develop five blocks in Iraqi Kurdistan. (…) Although the infrastructure won’t alter countries’ individual interests in the region, it will change the factors at play in the dispute between Arbil and Baghdad — a dispute that will only intensify as Iraqi Kurdistan’s independence referendum approaches (esportazioni dovrebbero inziare nel 2020 – ndr).

Tecnici addetti ad un impianto petrolifero

*Generale CA (Riserva)