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Russian oil giant expands into Iraq’s Kurdish region

Image of the Rosneft oil plant [Lite/Wikipedia]
Rosneft oil plant [Lite/Wikipedia]

Rosneft, the famed Russian oil company, has signed a contract with the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) to develop five oil blocks, solidifying ties with the semi-autonomous Kurdish region in northern Iraq.

In a statement released yesterday, the oil giant announced that it had signed “documents required to put in force” agreements which share the production of oil projects and which give Rosneft an 80 per cent stake in the projects.

The blocks in question may have an estimated 670 million barrels of recoverable oil reserves, of which the company hopes to begin the exploration and production as early as next year.

This landmark deal takes place under a month after the independence referendum which was held by the KRG and resulted in an overwhelming vote in favour of separation from Iraq, and is seen as a further step in paving the way towards an independent Kurdistan.

Read more: Major oil pipeline between Iraq and Turkey to bypass Kurdish region

The deal was much anticipated, as it is one of a long series of deals which Rosneft has made with the KRG, including trade and investment lending.

Just one week before the referendum was held, Rosneft talked of possible plans to fund a natural gas pipeline running from Kurdistan to Europe.

“The new agreements will allow us to talk about full-fledged entry of the company in one of the most promising regions,” the company said, and terms of the agreements are similar to what the KRG has with other international companies.

Earlier this month, President Vladimir Putin assured that Russia is “not trying to provoke anything.” Referring to the political turmoil and tensions between the KRG and the Iraqi government after the majority of voters favoured independence, he added: “We are not interfering”.

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