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KURDISTAN: Understanding the Power Brokers

Bottom Line: Kurdistan is a good place to be right now for E&P companies, but navigating the playing field of power brokers and gatekeepers is a challenging necessity if you want to break into this market—and it’s changing by the day.

Analysis: ISA Intel is deep inside Kurdistan and our intelligence paints an interesting picture of the power broker/gatekeeper scene, and it’s a dynamic one. What is most important to understand in Kurdistan is that contrary to popular media stories, the two key political parties—the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK)—do not necessarily share an agenda. Furthermore, all business in the control is divided between the two key families controlling these parties—the family of KRG President Masoud Barzani (KDP) and the family of Iraqi President Jalal Talabani (absent from the scene; receiving medical treatment in Germany; and most likely in a coma from which he will not recover). These should be considered to be oligarchic families at this point. The KRG/Barzani Family largely controls all the oil and gas concessions, though there are some heavy PUK power brokers, for blocks that fall under the PUK’s geographical area of control. The power brokers are sometimes obvious, and sometimes not. What’s changing is Turkey’s growing influence on the oil and gas scene here, with Turkish “advisors” flitting in and out of the Natural Resources Ministry and gradually becoming the most important power brokers here.

Kurdistan - KDP PUK

Recommendation: It is essential to know who these power brokers are, and who the more accessible gatekeepers that serve as stepping stones to these elite figures are before attempting to enter this market.

Latin America Intel Notes are provided by Southern Pulse. Europe/Middle East/Africa Intel Notes are provided by ISA Intel. For more information on the security situation or political risk in these areas, please contact ISA Intel Executive Director Anes Alic (anesalic@gmail.com) or Southern Pulse director Samuel Logan (samuel@southernpulse.com).




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