• 4 hours Midwestern Refiners Seek Canadian Oil To Expand Output
  • 9 hours UK On Track To Approve Construction of “Mini” Nuclear Reactors
  • 13 hours LNG Glut To Continue Into 2020s, IEA Says
  • 15 hours Oil Nears $52 With Record OPEC Deal Compliance
  • 18 hours Saudi Aramco CEO Affirms IPO On Track For H2 2018
  • 20 hours Canadia Ltd. Returns To Sudan For First Time Since Oil Price Crash
  • 21 hours Syrian Rebel Group Takes Over Oil Field From IS
  • 3 days PDVSA Booted From Caribbean Terminal Over Unpaid Bills
  • 3 days Russia Warns Ukraine Against Recovering Oil Off The Coast Of Crimea
  • 4 days Syrian Rebels Relinquish Control Of Major Gas Field
  • 4 days Schlumberger Warns Of Moderating Investment In North America
  • 4 days Oil Prices Set For Weekly Loss As Profit Taking Trumps Mideast Tensions
  • 4 days Energy Regulators Look To Guard Grid From Cyberattacks
  • 4 days Mexico Says OPEC Has Not Approached It For Deal Extension
  • 4 days New Video Game Targets Oil Infrastructure
  • 4 days Shell Restarts Bonny Light Exports
  • 4 days Russia’s Rosneft To Take Majority In Kurdish Oil Pipeline
  • 4 days Iraq Struggles To Replace Damaged Kirkuk Equipment As Output Falls
  • 4 days British Utility Companies Brace For Major Reforms
  • 5 days Montenegro A ‘Sweet Spot’ Of Untapped Oil, Gas In The Adriatic
  • 5 days Rosneft CEO: Rising U.S. Shale A Downside Risk To Oil Prices
  • 5 days Brazil Could Invite More Bids For Unsold Pre-Salt Oil Blocks
  • 5 days OPEC/Non-OPEC Seek Consensus On Deal Before Nov Summit
  • 5 days London Stock Exchange Boss Defends Push To Win Aramco IPO
  • 5 days Rosneft Signs $400M Deal With Kurdistan
  • 5 days Kinder Morgan Warns About Trans Mountain Delays
  • 5 days India, China, U.S., Complain Of Venezuelan Crude Oil Quality Issues
  • 5 days Kurdish Kirkuk-Ceyhan Crude Oil Flows Plunge To 225,000 Bpd
  • 6 days Russia, Saudis Team Up To Boost Fracking Tech
  • 6 days Conflicting News Spurs Doubt On Aramco IPO
  • 6 days Exxon Starts Production At New Refinery In Texas
  • 6 days Iraq Asks BP To Redevelop Kirkuk Oil Fields
  • 7 days Oil Prices Rise After U.S. API Reports Strong Crude Inventory Draw
  • 7 days Oil Gains Spur Growth In Canada’s Oil Cities
  • 7 days China To Take 5% Of Rosneft’s Output In New Deal
  • 7 days UAE Oil Giant Seeks Partnership For Possible IPO
  • 7 days Planting Trees Could Cut Emissions As Much As Quitting Oil
  • 7 days VW Fails To Secure Critical Commodity For EVs
  • 7 days Enbridge Pipeline Expansion Finally Approved
  • 7 days Iraqi Forces Seize Control Of North Oil Co Fields In Kirkuk
Alt Text

Are Oil Markets Becoming Immune To Geopolitical Risk?

The geopolitical risk premium in…

Alt Text

Saudis Lose Market Share To OPEC Rivals

OPEC members Iraq and Iran…

Alt Text

Oil Markets Fear Iraqi Escalation

The military operation by Iraqi…

Nick Cunningham

Nick Cunningham

Nick Cunningham is a freelance writer on oil and gas, renewable energy, climate change, energy policy and geopolitics. He is based in Pittsburgh, PA.

More Info

Kurdish Vote Won’t Spark A Sustained Oil Price Rally

Kurdistan

Turkey and Iraq have stepped up the pressure on Kurdistan after the semi-autonomous region of Iraq voted for independence. Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan threatened to block Kurdish oil exports through Turkish territory, while Baghdad called for an international boycott of Kurdish oil sales.

The Kurdish people appeared to have voted overwhelmingly for independence on Monday, pending final results. But the Kurdish Regional Government has said that the vote, which won’t be recognized internationally, will be a starting point for negotiations with Baghdad, and not the culmination of real independence.

Turkey’s President called the referendum “illegal, null, and void,” and threatened to shut down exports through the pipeline that runs from Kurdistan to the Turkish Mediterranean port of Ceyhan. “Let’s see where they are going to drain off the petrol — we control the valve,” he said. “Once you turn off the valve, it will be over.”

The referendum was also opposed by Iran, as well as the United States, which argued that it would destabilize the region.

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said on Sunday that all foreign countries should not purchase oil from Kurdistan, arguing that the sales are illegal if not conducted under the auspices of the Iraqi central government. Iraq “asks the neighboring countries and the countries of the world to deal exclusively with the federal government of Iraq in regards to entry posts and oil,” a statement from the Prime Minister’s office said. Related: Aston Martin CEO: UK Fossil Fuel Ban “Meaningless”

Kurdistan produces just over 600,000 bpd, or about 15 percent of Iraq’s total output. Most contentiously are the oil fields around disputed areas in Kirkuk, which the Kurds took control of in 2014 when ISIS burst onto the scene and rapidly seized swathes of territory from the Iraqi government. “The Iraqi government is not going to stand still and watch Kirkuk’s integration into Kurdistan, and the mobilization that we’re seeing is an Iraqi effort to reassert control over the contested territory,” Ayham Kamel, director of the Middle East and North Africa at Eurasia Group, said in a Bloomberg interview. Ethnic clashes “might become a pretext for much wider mobilization,” he added.

Kurdistan is largely at the mercy of its much more powerful neighbors. The bulk of the region’s finances come from oil exports, much of which go through a pipeline across Turkey to the Mediterranean. If Turkey takes draconian action to shut down Kurdish oil exports, it would cripple the Kurdish economy.

“If this boycott call proves successful, a good 500,000 fewer barrels of crude oil per day would reach the market,” Commerzbank said in a note. The threat of the boycott, as well as the possible shuttering of oil flows through Turkey, led to a significant increase in crude prices, which touched two-year highs on Monday. Brent rose above $58 per barrel, the highest price in more than two years, although prices fell back slightly on Tuesday.

A more serious scenario would be some sort of military clash between Kurdistan and its neighbors. Turkey conducted military exercises along its border with Kurdistan, and Turkish President Erdogan ominously warned that “we may arrive one night, suddenly.”

Kurdish President Massoud Barzani called for calm and diplomatic negotiations, but on Tuesday the Iraqi government ruled out talks. “Barzani is playing a dangerous game of poker,” Anthony Skinner, a director with U.K.-based forecasting company Verisk Maplecroft, told Bloomberg by email. “He is counting on Turkey, Iran and the U.S. not being able to sustain a united stance on pressuring the KRG.”

The gamble is risky, but if the Kurds can stave off retaliation, there is an upside. Because any clash would be a lop-sided affair, given the lack of international support for formal Kurdish independence, military hostilities are unlikely. Turkey could shut down the pipeline that carries Kurdish oil, but Ankara also benefits from tariffs it receives for allowing those shipments to proceed. Baghdad has much less influence, so if Turkey declines to follow through on its threats, the independence vote could give the Kurdish government some leverage with Baghdad in negotiations over revenue sharing, a longstanding grievance that has not been addressed. The Iraqi government has tried for years to halt Kurdish oil exports, but to no avail.

Related: As OPEC Compliance Peaks, Can The Drawdowns Continue?

The Kurdish government also recently resolved some outstanding issues with energy companies operating within its borders, restructuring debts and sending payments to some drillers. Rosneft just announced plans to invest $1 billion in Kurdistan to build a natural gas pipeline, a move that comes on the heels of hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of loans to the Kurdish government earlier this year, to be paid back by future oil sales. The recent deals bolster Kurdistan’s energy outlook.

In short, the belligerent rhetoric surrounding the independence vote between Kurdistan and its neighbors could have already peaked. That might mean that the case for higher crude oil prices will need to come from elsewhere; oil bulls cannot base their bets on supply disruptions from Kurdistan.

By Nick Cunningham of Oilprice.com

More Top Reads From Oilprice.com:




Back to homepage


Leave a comment
  • Brandon on September 27 2017 said:
    Spiking oil prices are not the result of Kurdish vote for independence. You'd better look at market fundamentals to formulate your analysis: think about the 1.6 Mbpd growth for this year and next. And don't forget OPEC cuts and shale decreasing marginal productivity. Whoever is not considering these elements carefully today is just living on a different planet. You need to build another Nigeria in 2018 to keep the market somewhat balanced. And don't forget Venezuela is failing. There is just not enough oil around to fulfill demand at stable prices, that's it.

Leave a comment




Oilprice - The No. 1 Source for Oil & Energy News