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Global Energy Advisory April 15th 2016

Politics, Geopolitics & Conflict

We spend a lot of time on Kurdistan because, while it’s not huge in the oil patch, where its oil ends up and how it gets there is of significant geopolitical consequence for the Middle East. And this past week has seen a lot of interesting activity in and around this venue. Most significantly, the authorities of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) are believed to be fast-tracking talks with the Iranians to potentially set up an alternative route with a pipeline that would direct Kurdish oil to Iran. This idea has been bandied about rather half-heartedly over the past couple of years, but now it appears to be more serious, and the Kurds would love to have a more stable alternative to the pipeline that currently runs from Kirkuk, in Northern Iraq’s disputed territories, to the Turkish port of Ceyhan. That would give the Kurds two pipelines, so when something goes wrong with the Kirkuk-Ceyhan pipeline—as it did in February when it was offline for a month over mysterious sabotage—it will have the Iranian option. The Iranians would then process the Kurdish crude in one of two refineries: Kermanshah or Tabriz. The Kurdish oil could then be exported through Iran’s Persian Gulf terminals. The Kurds would also, then, get Iranian gas. Later this month, an Iranian delegation will be in Erbil to discuss this month, though we’re not sure exactly when. The talks are still just preliminary, but the overall…

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