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Rosneft suspends work at Kurdistan Region oil field near Syria border: Interfax

Russian oil giant Rosneft announced it is suspending operations at one oil field in the Kurdistan Region near the Syrian border, citing security concerns stemming from Turkey’s military incursion against Kurdish forces in northern Syria.

Rosneft Vice President Eric Liron said the suspension is not a change in the planned operations in the Kurdistan Region, but the proximity to the Syrian border is “a deterrent,” Interfax reported.

Work on Block 8 near the border is on hold until Rosneft can guarantee the safety of its workers, Liron stated. Work in Block 11 continues as normal.

Turkey launched its Operation Peace Spring into northeastern Syria in the last month. Iraq has deployed additional troops to reinforce the border with Syria.

Rosneft signed a deal with the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in October 2017 to develop five oil blocks containing an estimated 670 million barrels of oil. The blocks are primarily located in northwestern parts of the Kurdistan Region.

The Russian giant’s entry into Kurdistan Region’s energy sector was lifeline to the KRG, which was struggling under the weight of a financial crisis and disastrous relations with Baghdad after the September 2017 independence referendum.

The KRG’s debt to Rosneft dropped by more than half in 2018, down from $3 billion in the first quarter to $1.4 billion as of the end of the year, Reuters reported.

In an interview with TASS, Rosneft’s First Vice President, Eric Maurice Liron, said that this year the Russian company launched exploration works in Kurdistan. The exploration work is set to continue next year and could take several years to complete, according to Rosneft’s manager.

“Currently the company is carrying out 3D seismic operations at one of the areas and is preparing for drilling of exploration wells. The works will continue in 2020 and will take several years,” Liron told TASS.

At one of the fields, Bejil, Rosneft is carrying out experimental production. Following the completion of the geological exploration and experimental production, the company plans to move on to full-scale commercial production, Liron said.