ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Russian state-owned petroleum giant Rosneft announced on Friday that it had signed an agreement with the Kurdistan Regional Government to develop its oil and gas infrastructure, including the design of a new gas pipeline.
The deal, made at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum, could boost oil production in the Kurdistan Region up to 10,000 additional barrels per day (bpd) by the end of 2018.
"This is a key project to the monetization of the exploration and production opportunities Rosneft has been evaluating since signing a Gas Cooperation Agreement with the [KRG]," said a statement released by the oil company, referring to the pipeline plans.
The Gas Cooperation Agreement mentioned was signed on October 18, just two days after Iraqi forces and Iran-backed Hashd al-Shaabi (PMF) militias pushed Kurdish Peshmerga from oil-rich Kirkuk and other disputed territories. The military campaign was Baghdad's response to the Kurdistan Region's independence referendum held shortly before, at a time when many in the region felt abandoned by the international community.
Through companies like Rosneft, Moscow is now the largest petroleum investor in the Middle East, and appears poised to continue to increase its market share throughout the region, including Kurdistan.
"Rosneft will focus its analysis on how to participate in [the Kurdistan Region's] integrated gas business," the statement continued, "in such areas as exploration and production, transportation and trading."
In February, KRG Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani told Russia-based RIA Novosti that Kurdish officials were then in talks with the Rosneft to sign new contracts, but there have been no further statements until now.
Other major Russian oil companies operating in the Kurdistan Region include Gazprom and Lukoil.