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Russia keeps eye on Kurdish oil contracts, referendum

Russia has been boosting its presence in Middle East oil via the Kurdish Regional Government, but is also waiting to see what the potential impacts might be of the KRG’s independence referendum.
ATTENTION EDITORS - VISUAL COVERAGE OF SCENES OF INJURY An injured member of Kurdish Peshmerga forces reacts as smoke rises after an attack at Bai Hassan oil station, northwest of Kirkuk, Iraq, July 31, 2016. REUTERS/Ako Rasheed - S1BETSSSNUAB

As major regional powers Turkey, Iraq, Syria and Iran mull the Iraqi Kurds’ independence referendum, Russia finds itself in the position of having become the major investor in Iraqi Kurdistan. Russian spending in the area’s oil and gas industry has reached at least $4 billion.

Stronger energy ties between Moscow and Erbil (the capital of the Kurdistan Regional Government, or KRG) became apparent long before the Sept. 25 referendum. In February, Russia’s state-owned oil giant Rosneft announced it would finance in advance a two-year deal, beginning this year, to buy Kurdish crude for the company’s growing global refining system.

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