Russia’s Rosneft is exploring the possibility of building a 30bn cubic metre (bcm) pipeline that would from 2020 deliver natural gas supplies from the Iraqi Kurdistan region to Turkey and Europe.
Realising the project, however, could be fiendishly tricky, especially given the growing anger in Ankara and Baghdad about the semi-autonomous region’s insistence that on September 25 it goes ahead with a referendum on creating an independent Kurdistan. But for now Kremlin-backed Rosneft, Russia’s biggest crude producer, is ticking all the boxes, and said in a September 19 press release that it could reach an agreement on project financing by the end of the year.
The Rosneft investment would enable the company “to play a leading role in the building and expanding of Kurdistan region’s gas-transport infrastructure and create synergy with existing projects”, the company said.
Ashti Hawrami, Minister of Natural Resources in the Kurdistan Regional Government, issued a statement saying he believed the project could speed up the development of the region’s gas industry. “The pipeline will be built on a fast-track basis and accelerate delivery of export gas to the Turkish market and to the European Union.”
If all goes to plan, Rosneft could find itself in competition with Gazprom’s Turkish Stream natural gas pipeline project, which aims to transit Russian gas to Turkey and Europe via a Black Sea route. It is due to send an annual 15.75 bcm of gas to Turkey as soon as next year and the same amount to Europe from 2019.
Four years ago, Ankara permitted the Kurdistan Regional Government to build an oil pipeline toward Europe across its territory and commence exports. But it is staunchly against any emergence of an independent Kurdistan and this week began military exercises no doubt aimed at discouraging the Kurds from moving ahead with the plebiscite.
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