European Refiners Hardest Hit If Kurdish Oil Disrupted, IEA SaysBy
Italy is biggest buyer of crude from Iraq’s Kurdistan: IEA
Iraq’s Kurdistan backed independence in referendum last month
European refiners would be the biggest losers if Kurdish crude supplies are disrupted by the political fallout from the semi-autonomous region’s vote for independence from Iraq, said the International Energy Agency.
Italy is the biggest importer of crude from Kurdistan, with Croatia, Greece, Spain and Israel also getting regular supplies from the region, the IEA said Thursday in its monthly oil-market report. Shipments held steady in September at around 580,000 barrels a day, the IEA said.
Iraq’s Kurds voted in favor of independence in a referendum on Sept. 25 that covered both its established territory and some disputed regions including the oil-rich area of Kirkuk. Turkey, which has its own restive Kurdish minority, opposed the referendum as did the federal government in Baghdad. Shortly after the results, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned he could choose to “close the valves” on Kurdish oil exports through a pipeline on its territory to the port of Ceyhan on the Mediterranean.
Since the referendum, crude has been flowing normally through Kurdistan to Ceyhan, a person familiar with the matter said this week.
The IEA, which tracks production from the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries including Iraq, said “companies drilling for oil in Kurdistan must also be concerned.” On Wednesday, DNO ASA, the biggest foreign producer in the region, told Bloomberg it expects crude exports to continue.
Things had been looking up for companies after the government of the semi-autonomous region settled debts with DNO and Genel Energy Plc, which operates the Taq Taq field. Russia’s Rosneft PJSC has also expanded its footprint there and recently suggested it could fund a planned natural-gas pipeline to Europe.
Iraq’s crude production rose 30,000 barrels a day to 4.52 million a day in September, the IEA said. The pipeline through Turkey generally handles 600,000 barrels a day, with half coming from fields in the Kirkuk area, which is overseen by the Kurdish forces but claimed by Baghdad. Gulf Keystone Petroleum Ltd. -- which operates the 36,700 barrels-a-day Shaikan field -- trucks its production through Turkey.