Iraq violence intensifies on oil go-ahead

Published May 14, 2009
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Taq Taq Iraq Kurdistan Addax Petroleum

Northern Iraq is reeling from violence that has left 10 dead and scores wounded in just a few days, and the main target appears to be political life in Kirkuk, capital of a Kurdish government which this week agreed to let oil be trucked to export pipelines.

The Kurds are reportedly making political life difficult for resident Arabs successful in political office, so some finger Arabs as the bombers. But the indiscriminate nature of the bombings have only added confusion and pain while seeming to justifty more strong-arming by Kurdish police.

A car bomb in Kirkuk Tuesday was heard against Arab protests in Mosul, the other stronghold of a Kurdish Regional Government that has struck separate deals with oil companies to Baghdad’s apparent dismay.

The explosion in Kirkuk followed one at a mosque Monday, the New York Times reported. "Terror" researchers in Oslo say that while it might be Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia, other groups are vying for influence in an oil-rich area controlled from Kirkuk.

“When Al Qaeda were pushed out of Baghdad, they became more active in the north of Iraq, where much of the newer violence is,” Truls Hallberg Tønnessen of the Norwegian Defence Research Establisment told

“It has become more compicated now,” Tønnesen said.

It’s hard to know from which quarter the violence eminates. Kurdish Pesh Merga guerillas are now the government’s security forces, while estranged indpendent Kurdish guerillas seeking rights for Kurds in Turkey can only have noticed the Regional Government’s new Turkish oilfield partners.

To show they’re serious about the Turks as partners, the oil pipeline to Turkey was flagged for more business this week, to the delight of the international oil companies who got in early with the Kurds and secured local permission to produce oil.

The Kurds are undestood to have penned field-development deals with Norway-based DNO International, Calgary-based Addax, Dublin-based Petrel and a host of others. In early April, they brought Turkey’s Genel Enerji in on two of three big production-sharing contracts, including the Tawke field.

The Kurdish government has already given 44 percent of Taq Taq, another big oilfield, to Genel — a business of Çukurova Holding, one of Turkey's largest industrial groups — a deal that could garner support for a free Kurdistan in Istanbul.

Courting new allies in the Turks and, in 2003, the Americans, has angered the old members of Ansar al-Islam, now said to be active under another name. And Kirkuk has become important to local Turkmen aiming to secure rights and riches.

Meanwhile, Addax Petroleum and Genel aim to turn the 40,000 barrels a day of trucked oil from Taq Taq — starting June 1st, 2009 — into a modern hub for 180,000 bpd. The immediate goal is to boost flows by a first 70,000 bpd.

With the proceeds of trucked hydrocarbons, a pipeline to the Khurmala border station is being planned for Ceyhan-bound oil.

Tags: Kurdistan Regional Government


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