The great Russian oil game in Iraqi Kurdistan

Dmitry Zhdannikov

Last October, at the height of a political crisis in Iraq’s Kurdistan region, a letter arrived at the Iraqi oil ministry in Baghdad from Igor Sechin, head of Kremlin oil major Rosneft (ROSN.MM).

The Baghdad government was showing a “lack of constructive position and interest” about Rosneft’s offer to develop southern Iraqi oilfields, Sechin wrote in the letter, a copy of which was seen by Reuters.

Kurdistan, a region of about 6 million people in northern Iraq, had just tried and failed to break away from the rest of the country. Baghdad had dismissed the Sept. 25 independence referendum and sent in troops to seize control of key oilfields – Kurdistan’s main source of income.

Now Sechin, one of the closest allies of President Vladimir Putin, said that given Baghdad’s reluctance to work with Rosneft, his firm would instead do business with the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), which showed “a higher interest in expanding strategic cooperation”.

Global powers including the United States and European Union, which had previously expressed sympathy with the Kurdish independence drive, would eventually reassure Baghdad they recognized its sovereignty over the whole of Iraq, including Kurdistan.
But there was no hint of such conciliation in Sechin’s letter. Rosneft had pledged to invest billions of dollars in Kurdistan to the anger of the Baghdad government. Now, instead of backing off, it was doubling down.

And Sechin held a stronger hand than many Iraqi officials realized, according to seven sources familiar with the matter. Days before, Rosneft had taken over ownership of landlocked Kurdistan’s oil export pipelines to Turkey from the KRG in return for $1.8 billion.
The aim of the deal for Rosneft was not only commercial, but to cement Russia’s political influence in Iraq and the Middle East, according to the Rosneft, oil industry, Kurdish and Iraqi government sources.

Control of the pipelines has given Rosneft a central role in ongoing talks between the KRG and Baghdad aimed at resuming full oil exports, which were disrupted by the referendum and Iraqi seizure of oilfields, said the sources.
Kurdistan has large oil reserves – possibly a third of Iraq’s total – and its exports are vital to both the regional and national economies.

In a sign of Rosneft’s influence, Kurdish officials have said they will not restart oil flows and transfer funds raised to the Iraqi government unless pipeline transit fees are paid to the Russian oil major, according to three industry sources in Erbil and Baghdad.

Iraqi oil minister Jabar al-Luaibi effectively recognized the firm’s growing role in Kurdistan when he met Sechin’s right-hand man Didier Casimiro in Baghdad this month and said he was ready to cooperate with Rosneft “in renovating pipelines”.
Rosneft, Sechin, the Kremlin and the Iraq’s prime minister’s office did not respond to requests for comment on this story. Sechin and the Kremlin have repeatedly said Rosneft’s projects are purely commercial, not political.

The Iraqi oil ministry declined to comment on any political aspects of the Rosneft deal.
Rosneft’s actions in Kurdistan, a region long allied to the United States, provide an insight into how the Kremlin uses Rosneft – and its bold chief executive – as an instrument of Russian foreign policy across the world, from Erbil to Caracas and New Delhi, the sources said.

Many countries, including Italy and France, have used their oil majors as tools of foreign policy, but Moscow’s use of Rosneft in this way has increased significantly over the past two decades under Putin’s rule.

For Kurdistan, Russia’s growing influence represents a sharp geopolitical reversal. The region has been closely aligned to the United States since the toppling of Saddam Hussein during the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003.

Amos Hochstein, who served as the U.S. Special Energy Envoy in the Obama administration, said while Rosneft and other Russian state firms sought to make profits, they also acted as a political entities when necessary.

“They report directly to President Putin. Not every transaction that they do is political. But when Putin wants to perform a political transaction, they will definitely do it,” he told Reuters. “Russia doesn’t have a lot of tools to exercise political influence, and energy is the most efficient one”.

Baghdad, which does not recognize the deal for the pipelines, has found itself in a difficult situation.
The Iraqi government’s finances have been strained by its battle with Islamic State so it has little money to build new pipelines from Kurdistan, while it is loath to significantly disrupt the region’s oil flows, which it is banking on to deliver much-needed revenue.

The role played by Rosneft in furthering Kremlin foreign policy is not unique to Iraq and has also played out in other parts of the world, according to the Rosneft and industry sources.
“Sechin behaves like a second Russian foreign minister. Or to put it differently, he represents the economic might behind Russian foreign policies,” said one of the industry sources, an acquaintance of the Rosneft boss. “Very often these policies are about poking the Americans right in the eye.”

In Venezuela, Rosneft lent around $6 billion to support the government. The company could end up owning large Texan refineries, currently belonging to Venezuelan state oil firm PDVSA, because the plants are collateral against the debt.

In India, Rosneft invested $13 billion in a refinery – an abnormally high price for an oil processing complex – as it sought to outbid Saudi firm Aramco and boost Russian ties with the country, traditionally allied with the United States.

Sechin said earlier this year in a rare interview with Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung he was confident that both Venezuela and Kurdistan would repay their debts in full and denied the deals were political.

Asked if he saw himself as a politician, the 57-year-old responded: “It is a difficult question. It often feels like I have already lived several different lives.
“I think the right word is a manager.”
Born in St Petersburg, he was sent in the 1980s to act as a military interpreter in Mozambique and Angola, where Moscow and Washington were fighting proxy wars.
Putin, who had known Sechin since the early 1990s in St Petersburg, took him to Moscow when he rose to power. Sechin helped him nationalize much of the Russian oil industry and was appointed Rosneft CEO in 2012.

The Kurds have long argued that as an autonomous region of Iraq they have the authority to make agreements with foreign companies about pumping oil in their territory. In 2014, they started independent oil exports via Turkey.
Iraq’s central government, however, says any Kurdish deals with overseas firms, or to export oil from Kurdistan, are illegal without Baghdad’s blessing.

Russia was the only major world power that did not oppose the referendum, saying it understood Kurdish aspirations for independence. The United States, EU, Turkey and Iran all urged Erbil to cancel or postpone the vote in the weeks before it.
As U.S. State Secretary Rex Tillerson unsuccessfully tried to negotiate a delay to the independence vote, Sechin was busy negotiating the pipelines deal.

In the days following the referendum, Kurdish officials including natural resources minister Ashti Hawrami were flown to Moscow to meet Rosneft executives and Russian foreign ministry officials, according to two of the sources.

On Oct. 20, at the peak of the post-referendum chaos when Iraqi Shiite militia backed by Iranian troops ousted Kurdish Peshmerga forces from Kirkuk oilfields, Sechin closed the deal.

Rosneft paid the last tranche of the $1.8 billion deal sum to Erbil, the sources said. Rosneft and Sechin, both subject to Western sanctions over Russia’s annexation of Crimea, have never disclosed how much the company paid for the pipelines. -Courtesy: Reuters

xosotin chelseathông tin chuyển nhượngcâu lạc bộ bóng đá arsenalbóng đá atalantabundesligacầu thủ haalandUEFAevertonfutebol ao vivofutemaxmulticanaisonbetbóng đá world cupbóng đá inter milantin juventusbenzemala ligaclb leicester cityMUman citymessi lionelsalahnapolineymarpsgronaldoserie atottenhamvalenciaAS ROMALeverkusenac milanmbappenapolinewcastleaston villaliverpoolfa cupreal madridpremier leagueAjaxbao bong da247EPLbarcelonabournemouthaff cupasean footballbên lề sân cỏbáo bóng đá mớibóng đá cúp thế giớitin bóng đá ViệtUEFAbáo bóng đá việt namHuyền thoại bóng đágiải ngoại hạng anhSeagametap chi bong da the gioitin bong da lutrận đấu hôm nayviệt nam bóng đátin nong bong daBóng đá nữthể thao 7m24h bóng đábóng đá hôm naythe thao ngoai hang anhtin nhanh bóng đáphòng thay đồ bóng đábóng đá phủikèo nhà cái onbetbóng đá lu 2thông tin phòng thay đồthe thao vuaapp đánh lô đềdudoanxosoxổ số giải đặc biệthôm nay xổ sốkèo đẹp hôm nayketquaxosokq xskqxsmnsoi cầu ba miềnsoi cau thong kesxkt hôm naythế giới xổ sốxổ số 24hxo.soxoso3mienxo so ba mienxoso dac bietxosodientoanxổ số dự đoánvé số chiều xổxoso ket quaxosokienthietxoso kq hôm nayxoso ktxổ số megaxổ số mới nhất hôm nayxoso truc tiepxoso ViệtSX3MIENxs dự đoánxs mien bac hom nayxs miên namxsmientrungxsmn thu 7con số may mắn hôm nayKQXS 3 miền Bắc Trung Nam Nhanhdự đoán xổ số 3 miềndò vé sốdu doan xo so hom nayket qua xo xoket qua xo so.vntrúng thưởng xo sokq xoso trực tiếpket qua xskqxs 247số miền nams0x0 mienbacxosobamien hôm naysố đẹp hôm naysố đẹp trực tuyếnnuôi số đẹpxo so hom quaxoso ketquaxstruc tiep hom nayxổ số kiến thiết trực tiếpxổ số kq hôm nayso xo kq trực tuyenkết quả xổ số miền bắc trực tiếpxo so miền namxổ số miền nam trực tiếptrực tiếp xổ số hôm nayket wa xsKQ XOSOxoso onlinexo so truc tiep hom nayxsttso mien bac trong ngàyKQXS3Msố so mien bacdu doan xo so onlinedu doan cau loxổ số kenokqxs vnKQXOSOKQXS hôm naytrực tiếp kết quả xổ số ba miềncap lo dep nhat hom naysoi cầu chuẩn hôm nayso ket qua xo soXem kết quả xổ số nhanh nhấtSX3MIENXSMB chủ nhậtKQXSMNkết quả mở giải trực tuyếnGiờ vàng chốt số OnlineĐánh Đề Con Gìdò số miền namdò vé số hôm nayso mo so debach thủ lô đẹp nhất hôm naycầu đề hôm naykết quả xổ số kiến thiết toàn quốccau dep 88xsmb rong bach kimket qua xs 2023dự đoán xổ số hàng ngàyBạch thủ đề miền BắcSoi Cầu MB thần tàisoi cau vip 247soi cầu tốtsoi cầu miễn phísoi cau mb vipxsmb hom nayxs vietlottxsmn hôm naycầu lô đẹpthống kê lô kép xổ số miền Bắcquay thử xsmnxổ số thần tàiQuay thử XSMTxổ số chiều nayxo so mien nam hom nayweb đánh lô đề trực tuyến uy tínKQXS hôm nayxsmb ngày hôm nayXSMT chủ nhậtxổ số Power 6/55KQXS A trúng roycao thủ chốt sốbảng xổ số đặc biệtsoi cầu 247 vipsoi cầu wap 666Soi cầu miễn phí 888 VIPSoi Cau Chuan MBđộc thủ desố miền bắcthần tài cho sốKết quả xổ số thần tàiXem trực tiếp xổ sốXIN SỐ THẦN TÀI THỔ ĐỊACầu lô số đẹplô đẹp vip 24hsoi cầu miễn phí 888xổ số kiến thiết chiều nayXSMN thứ 7 hàng tuầnKết quả Xổ số Hồ Chí Minhnhà cái xổ số Việt NamXổ Số Đại PhátXổ số mới nhất Hôm Nayso xo mb hom nayxxmb88quay thu mbXo so Minh ChinhXS Minh Ngọc trực tiếp hôm nayXSMN 88XSTDxs than taixổ số UY TIN NHẤTxs vietlott 88SOI CẦU SIÊU CHUẨNSoiCauVietlô đẹp hôm nay vipket qua so xo hom naykqxsmb 30 ngàydự đoán xổ số 3 miềnSoi cầu 3 càng chuẩn xácbạch thủ lônuoi lo chuanbắt lô chuẩn theo ngàykq xo-solô 3 càngnuôi lô đề siêu vipcầu Lô Xiên XSMBđề về bao nhiêuSoi cầu x3xổ số kiến thiết ngày hôm nayquay thử xsmttruc tiep kết quả sxmntrực tiếp miền bắckết quả xổ số chấm vnbảng xs đặc biệt năm 2023soi cau xsmbxổ số hà nội hôm naysxmtxsmt hôm nayxs truc tiep mbketqua xo so onlinekqxs onlinexo số hôm nayXS3MTin xs hôm nayxsmn thu2XSMN hom nayxổ số miền bắc trực tiếp hôm naySO XOxsmbsxmn hôm nay188betlink188 xo sosoi cầu vip 88lô tô việtsoi lô việtXS247xs ba miềnchốt lô đẹp nhất hôm naychốt số xsmbCHƠI LÔ TÔsoi cau mn hom naychốt lô chuẩndu doan sxmtdự đoán xổ số onlinerồng bạch kim chốt 3 càng miễn phí hôm naythống kê lô gan miền bắcdàn đề lôCầu Kèo Đặc Biệtchốt cầu may mắnkết quả xổ số miền bắc hômSoi cầu vàng 777thẻ bài onlinedu doan mn 888soi cầu miền nam vipsoi cầu mt vipdàn de hôm nay7 cao thủ chốt sốsoi cau mien phi 7777 cao thủ chốt số nức tiếng3 càng miền bắcrồng bạch kim 777dàn de bất bạion newsddxsmn188betw88w88789bettf88sin88suvipsunwintf88five8812betsv88vn88Top 10 nhà cái uy tínsky88iwinlucky88nhacaisin88oxbetm88vn88w88789betiwinf8betrio66rio66lucky88oxbetvn88188bet789betMay-88five88one88sin88bk88xbetoxbetMU88188BETSV88RIO66ONBET88188betM88M88SV88Jun-68Jun-88one88iwinv9betw388OXBETw388w388onbetonbetonbetonbet88onbet88onbet88onbet88onbetonbetonbetonbetqh88mu88Nhà cái uy tínpog79vp777vp777vipbetvipbetuk88uk88typhu88typhu88tk88tk88sm66sm66me88me888live8live8livesm66me88win798livesm66me88win79pog79pog79vp777vp777uk88uk88tk88tk88luck8luck8kingbet86kingbet86k188k188hr99hr99123b8xbetvnvipbetsv66zbettaisunwin-vntyphu88vn138vwinvwinvi68ee881xbetrio66zbetvn138i9betvipfi88clubcf68onbet88ee88typhu88onbetonbetkhuyenmai12bet-moblie12betmoblietaimienphi247vi68clupcf68clupvipbeti9betqh88onb123onbefsoi cầunổ hũbắn cáđá gàđá gàgame bàicasinosoi cầuxóc đĩagame bàigiải mã giấc mơbầu cuaslot gamecasinonổ hủdàn đềBắn cácasinodàn đềnổ hũtài xỉuslot gamecasinobắn cáđá gàgame bàithể thaogame bàisoi cầukqsssoi cầucờ tướngbắn cágame bàixóc đĩaAG百家乐AG百家乐AG真人AG真人爱游戏华体会华体会im体育kok体育开云体育开云体育开云体育乐鱼体育乐鱼体育欧宝体育ob体育亚博体育亚博体育亚博体育亚博体育亚博体育亚博体育开云体育开云体育棋牌棋牌沙巴体育买球平台新葡京娱乐开云体育mu88qh88

Leave a Reply