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Irina Slav

Irina Slav

Irina is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing on the oil and gas industry.

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Rosneft Discovers Oil Field In Iraq

Russia’s Rosneft has discovered a new oil field in southwestern Iraq, the company said. The first well in the field, named Salman, was drilled at over 4,000 meters and it tapped commercial amounts of crude, Rosneft said. Drilling started in February 2017 and was supposed to be completed by July the same year.

Rosneft acquired the rights to the Salman field when it bought smaller Russian oil producer Bashneft two years ago.

Until recently, Rosneft was widely seen as a partner of the Kurdistan Regional Government, which is still at odds with Baghdad. Last year, after an ill-fated independence referendum in the autonomous region of Kurdistan, Rosneft stepped in to help the Kurdistan government by investing US$3.5 billion in the management of the region’s biggest oil pipeline.

Earlier in 2017, Rosneft provided a loan of US$1.2 billion to the KRG to help it fill a budget gap and committed another US$400 million to oil field exploration in the autonomous region.

For most observers, this was a clear sign that Rosneft—and Russia by association—is on the side of the Kurds, and hence against the central Iraqi government in Baghdad, but a few months later Iraq’s foreign minister dispelled this impression by saying Baghdad was open for business with everyone, including Rosneft. Related: OPEC May Ease Oil Cuts As Soon As June

Rosneft also reportedly used its clout in Kurdistan to advance its expansion into Iraq. Last year, Igor Sechin sent a letter to Iraq’s oil ministry that said as much: if you don’t want to let us into your southern oil fields, we will go explore in Kurdistan, which demonstrated “a higher interest in expanding strategic cooperation.”

Many industry and Middle East politics observers see Rosneft’s expansion in Iraq as a way for Russia to expand its political influence in the region. Rosneft’s taking over the Kurdistan-Turkey pipeline, according to a Reuters story from April, gave the company an instrumental role in the talks between Baghdad and Erbil aimed at restoring full oil flows from Kurdistan to Turkey and oil export payments from Erbil to Baghdad.

By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com

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  • John Scior on May 28 2018 said:
    This article would go a long way in explaining Russian interest in Syria. If they could circumvent the Baghdad central government, the Kurds could build a pipeline through Syria to the Mediterranean sea, pre-empting the need to move oil through the Persian Gulf and thus improve their chances for their own independent state. It also explains Russia's deep interest in attempting to improve relations to Turkey by providing s400 anti-air defense systems , acting as a geopolitical wedge against US interests in maintaning Turkey as a political ally. The next few years should prove interesting as Turkey is also struggling against the independence of Kurds. Now we know the economic dynamic involved with the US situating troops in Syria and trying to maintain a seat at the poker table so to speak.

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