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Russia Aims To Dominate Middle East Energy

Putin

I’ve been writing a lot lately about Russian energy firms expanding worldwide. With Rosneft having been particularly active — striking critical deals in spots like India and Egypt the last few months.

And this week Rosneft and fellow Russian energy giants struck another round of huge acquisitions in a completely different part of the world.

The Middle East.

The biggest of those deals came in Iran. Where oil companies including Rosneft and Gazprom visited this past week along with Russian president Vladimir Putin — and grabbed a massive chunk of Iran’s quickly-opening oil and gas sector.

Rosneft CEO Igor Sechin said that his company and other Russian firms signed six separate cooperation deals with Iran’s government. With total investment under these deals to come in at a staggering $30 billion.

That reportedly includes direct development of Iranian oil and gas fields. Along with other initiatives such as research and development.

The massive size of the agreements is a very important data point for western oil and gas firms, which have been jockeying for a position in Iran’s high-potential petroleum sector.

Related: OPEC vs. U.S. Shale: The Battle For Asian Market Share

Iranian officials said last week that several of those firms are in the running for four oil and gas fields expected to be awarded by the end of March 2018. But those authorities also said that Russian firms are squarely in the mix for these assets — naming Lukoil and Gazprom as strong contenders.

This week’s massive investment commitment may tip the scales in favour of Russian bidders — potentially shutting the west out of this strategic destination. And Russian companies aren’t stopping there, they are also cementing a hold on other countries in the Middle East.

Two weeks ago in Iraq, Rosneft agreed to buy a controlling interest in Kurdistan’s biggest oil pipeline — paying a reported $1.8 billion for the asset.

That now means Russia controls one of the most strategic pieces of energy infrastructure in the Middle East. Which — added to fields and pipelines in places like Iran — could give the nation a leg up in this part of the world, when it comes to both profits and politics. 

Watch for more deals coming from Russia’s oil giants, who appear to be on a massive acquisition spree. And for the results of Iran’s bid rounds early next year, to see if any Western firms can compete. 

Here’s to casting a wide net.

By Dave Forest

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Leave a comment
  • Lee James on November 03 2017 said:
    No surprise at all that Russia will be developing Iranian oil and gas.

    But Russians linking up with Kurdistan causes Westerners to pause. Geography dictates that the Kurds do business with Russia. Russia can get Kurdish oil to market. The bigger picture of Russian domination in the region makes it possible, even though countries surrounding the Kurds are not inclined to give free reign to oil sales benefiting Kurds.

    Cooperation with Russia prevails among Shiite governments as all of this will work against Sunni and Western interests in the Middle-east.

    Russia sees an opportunity to gouge and leverage a weak point in the Western economy and energy security.

    I conclude that non-Middle-East interests are best served by reducing dependence on Middle-East petroleum -- just as fast as we possible can. Alternatives to burning up fossil fuels is the way to do it. Some countries, states and provinces are committed to taking the plunge -- even Saudi Arabia and China. It will have to be a concerted effort. Let's do it.

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