Iraqi Kurds' energy independence dilemma
After Iraqi Kurds' overwhelming vote for independence last month, their energy strategy is now up in the air, in particular since the Iraqi army moved in to the disputed, oil-rich Kirkuk after the vote, the NYT reports.
Context: Iraqi Kurdish leaders have been courting international companies (think Chevron and Exxon Mobil) for oil and gas deals for years as part of a linchpin to a financially strong independence strategy. Losing Kirkuk means their pitch may no longer be viable on top of already-depressed results in the oil sector.
- Iraq, including Kurdish output, is the second-largest producer in OPEC (4.5 million barrels of crude per day). The region, however, is exporting 250,000 barrels of oil per day, a quarter of what it estimated a few years ago, per the Times.
- Chevron recently said it would be backing off its operations in Kurdistan, and Total backed off last year.
- The region's politically shaky situation makes eventual independence harder to achieve as well: Kurdistan's regional president has said he will vacate his post, which could create a power vacuum and make relations with Ankara and Baghdad more difficult.