Bottom Line: The call for peace by Abdullah Ocalan, jailed leader of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), has a new tone that recognizes the potential for an independent Kurdistan in Northern Iraq and Turkey’s KEY role in this. Peace between Turkey and the PKK removes one more hurdle to Iraqi Kurdistan’s oil and gas independence. It also moves us one step closer to an armed conflict with the central Iraqi government, which will go down on the frontlines of Iraq’s disputed territories—the borders of which house foreign oil companies’ key assets.
Analysis: On 21 March, Ocalan called for a permanent ceasefire between his PKK militants and the Turkish authorities. We’ve heard these calls before, but this time it’s different: The PKK is proposing not only a ceasefire, but a new strategy entirely. This new strategy is to cash in on the gains the Iraqi Kurds have made towards independence through the unilateral development of their oil and gas resources. These developments are largely thanks to Turkey’s involvement. Turkey’s Genel Energy is the largest producer in Iraqi Kurdistan and the most ambitious in terms of planning infrastructure that will allow the Kurds to get their hydrocarbons directly to European markets via Turkey, bypassing the Iraqi central government. Turkey and the Kurds are no longer enemies, rather they are intricately linked to a new hydrocarbons future.
Recommendation: As we noted last week, Iraqi Kurdistan is a HIGH political risk scene, but it’s also a HIGH reward venue. It’s all about the timing. For investors, this is a game that requires getting in while the juniors are hitting it big, but getting out right before the shoe drops on this brewing conflict. We’re one step closer to that conflict with a peace deal between the PKK and the Turks. Right now, this is HOT, but once the Kurds get a new pipeline pumping directly to Turkey in 2014, it’ll be too hot to handle. Get in now, and time your exodus carefully. Investors in Turkey should also be prepared for a backlash by left-wing extremist elements inside Turkey who wish to derail any peace effort with the Kurds.