Geopolitical, Political & Conflict Updates
• High-level industry sources in Ukraine inform us that talk of extending the new gas tax beyond the end of the year is gaining in momentum, though lobbying by a united group of private gas producers plans to match that momentum. In order to convince Kyiv that it will be hanging itself over Russian gas if it goes through with this doubling of taxes on gas producers past 31 December 2014, we have to convince two political-business elite who are benefitting from the taxes. We have already heard from foreign-run industry sources who say they will count their losses in Ukraine and cease production if the tax law is extended into next year. The alternative asset hunt is already beginning for some. At the same time, no one with energy assets in the east will be making any moves over the next six months, and these assets should be considered on hold for the time being; however, the electricity assets should be considered the most viable once the dust settles in the Donetsk region—assuming we do not head into an all-out war with Russia. Corruption is as big a problem as ever, and oligarchs (or in today’s speak, the political-business elite) are financing the war effort in eastern Ukraine, so we know where the spoils will go.
• Washington finds itself in an interesting position over Iraqi Kurdish oil, the unilateral export of which has suddenly been forgotten in the melee of the conflict in Iraq and the US Air Force’s air strike support for Kurdish forces, whose Peshmerga remain the only real chance of fighting off the Islamic State (IS) in the ‘disputed territories’ in northern Iraq. The territory that IS has laid siege to in the north is not to be confused with the territory of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), or its capital of Erbil, which remains far from the heart of the fighting, as does its key oilfields.
• Presidential elections in Turkey have unsurprisingly solidified the power of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP). Erdogan ran for president this time around and won a landslide victory on 10 August. What happens next will be moves to strengthen the role of the president, which has been largely ceremonial, but which Erdogan will seek to empower with greater authority than the prime minister at the earliest opportunity. The electoral…