Politics, Geopolitics & Conflict
• Kurdish Peshmerga forces, Shi'ite militia’s and Iraq's army are reportedly preparing to launch a joint offensive against the Islamic State (ISIS) in and around the oil-rich region of Kirkuk in the disputed territories of Northern Iraq. The joint operation is hoping to get closer to Mosul, which is the largest city in Iraq still held by ISIS. Last month, Peshmerga forces retook a small crude oil station near the northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk which Islamic State insurgents seized. State-run North Oil said that the militants had seized a crude oil separation unit in Khabbaz on Saturday morning and that 15 oil workers are still missing. Khabbaz is a small oilfield southwest of Kirkuk with a maximum production capacity of 15,000 BPD. This all comes, as we noted last week, as the Iraqi Kurds make a subtle play for control of Kirkuk, by supporting the local government’s move to separate from the central oil company and launch their own oil company.
• Russia has announced an imminent withdrawal of its forces from Syria, and while this is easy media bait, it doesn’t mean much. When Russia talks of withdrawing its forces, it’s talking about those that were involved in the support to the Assad regime beginning in late September. Keep in mind that Russia has major military bases in Syria—at Tartus and Latakia. It maintains this force and all the air support this suggests. The announcement of a withdrawal is really just Putin’s way of hitting the point home that it’s worked to push back ISIS and that Assad has been somewhat stabilized militarily. The Russians aren’t leaving Syria. They are there to say. Soon enough they’ll be exploring, in earnest, Syria’s portion of the oil-rich Levant Basin.
Discovery & Development
• Kosmos Energy has made a gas discovery at its Ahmeyim-2 appraisal well in the offshore area of Mauritania and Senegal. The well—located in Mauritanian waters—encountered 78 meters of net gas pay in two quality reservoirs. This is the basin-opening Tortue-1 discovery well, which was drilled to 5,200 meters. This discovery apparently means that there are enough gas resources in the Tortue West structure to develop and LNG project—all on its own. Now Kosmos plans to drill the first of three independent oil tests in its blocks offshore Mauritania and Senegal. Offshore Senegal, Kosmos will be drilling…