Kurdish oil operations proceeding as normal

U.S. supermajor Chevron had cold feet, though most European companies have keep things working as normal during escalating tensions.
By Daniel J. Graeber Follow @dan_graeber Contact the Author   |  Oct. 20, 2017 at 6:54 AM
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Oct. 20 (UPI) -- A day after U.S. supermajor Chevron said it was standing down in the Kurdish north of Iraq, British company Gulf Keystone Petroleum said all was well.

"Gulf Keystone confirms that its operations in Kurdistan continue safely and securely with the company achieving average production of 34,525 barrels of oil per day from the Shaikan field since the beginning of October 2017," the company said in a statement Friday.

Fighting escalated during the weekend between Iraqi and Kurdish military forces, weeks after a controversial Kurdish referendum for independence. The Kurdish referendum coincided more or less with the liberation of parts of northern Iraq from the terrorist group calling itself the Islamic State.

There were reports that some of the flow of oil from northern Iraq to a Turkish port on the Mediterranean Sea was interrupted. On Thursday, a spokesperson for U.S. supermajor Chevron told The Wall Street Journal it was scaling back its operations in the Kurdish north in response to the security situation.

"We look forward to resuming our operations as soon as conditions permit," the spokesperson was quoted as saying.

Gulf Keystone said operations at the Shaikan field were proceeding as expected and output is on pace to meet its production guidance of between 32,000 and 38,000 bpd for the year. Crude oil from the Kurdish north is still moving by truck across the northern border for exports from Turkey without interruption.

"We remain committed to ensuring safe and secure operations in Kurdistan, and we continue to monitor the geo-political situation closely," CEO Jón Ferrier said in a statement. "Despite the challenges facing the region, we are maintaining stable operations."

Energy company Genel, which operates the Tawke and Taq Taq basins in the Kurdish north, said in a statement Thursday that its operations in the region "are progressing as normal."

The developments come as Iraqi Oil Minister Jabbar al-Luaibi expressed frustration with announcements of intent to sign oil contracts "without telling the federal government of the ministry of oil," something he said was an assault on Iraqi sovereignty.

Luaibi's statement made no reference to any specific company or contract, but it came one day after Russian oil company Rosneft said it signed an agreement with the semiautonomous Kurdistan Regional Government that put a production sharing agreement for five production areas in Kurdish territory in motion.

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