Bottom Line: As Taqa (Abu Dhabi National Energy) seeks approval to pump 30,000 barrels per day from its field in Iraqi Kurdistan, the Kurds drag their feet as influential Turkish power brokers make the company pay for delaying a massive investment in Turkey over alleged “political interests”.
Analysis: Taqa is now negotiating with the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in Erbil for approval of its development plan for the Atrush field with its larger partner Marathon Oil. In December, Taqa bought a 53.2% stake in the field from General Exploration Partners (a JV between Canada’s ShaMaran Petroleum and Aspect Energy). Taqa and Marathon expect production to begin in 2015 and they should have an easier time of getting it to market, with new pipeline options bypassing Baghdad about to come online. Drilling now is at 1,800 meters and soon after reaching 30,000 barrels per day, they are targeting a capacity increase—barring the government’s approval of the development plan.
Recommendation: Taqa and Marathon are expecting approval this quarter, but the Turks will make them sweat over it first. As we have mentioned before, the real power brokers in Kurdistan are the Turks who are seen going in and out of the Kurdish oil ministry building with increasing frequency and to the increasing confusion of lower-level Kurdish officials who aren’t sure from whom they are taking orders these days. At issue for the Turks is Taqa’s decision last month to delay a massive ($12 billion) investment in coal mining and power plant construction in Turkey from this summer to next year. This would have been the company’s largest investment outside of the UAE. The Turks were furious and now there will be a show of power over the Atrush field, but it should proceed as planned.