Rosneft spokesperson Mikhail Leontyev. Photo: Rudaw video
Russian energy firm Rosneft and the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) have agreed on a deal that will see the Russian firm “building Iraqi Kurdistan’s energy infrastructure in the field of gas,” Rosneft spokesperson Mikhail Leontyev told Rudaw in an exclusive interview.
Leontyev described the deal as important to the development of Kurdistan’s economic infrastructure, “creating stability for investment,” while making his firm the biggest player in the Region.
What follows is a translation of Rudaw’s interview with Mikhail Leontyev.
Rudaw: Today you announced that you are prepared to reach an agreement with Iraqi Kurdistan about transporting the Region’s gas to Europe. Can you discuss the specifics of this agreement?
: We are currently speaking to Iraqi Kurdistan within the framework of a number of agreements and shared work. We have some protocols that we signed at the Saint Petersburg Economic Forum with the Prime Minister of the Council of Ministers of the Iraqi Kurdistan government. We followed up within the framework of this agreement in order to complete the work. We examined Kurdistan’s energy infrastructure and assessed the exportation of Iraqi Kurdistan’s gas in the future. We are currently making preparations and we will be officially signing the agreement at the end of this year.
I am officially announcing to you that we will be building Iraqi Kurdistan’s energy infrastructure in the field of gas. We will start the first step with building a gas pipeline. This will ensure that there is necessary gas to account for the internal demand of Kurdistan. We will also be exporting it abroad through Turkey, to Turkey initially and then will be exporting it to European markets. The amount of
The Russian government has an agreement with Turkey
gas we will be exporting is assessed to be 30 billion cubic meters. I think Kurdistan has the capacity to export this amount. We will be funding the construction of the gas pipeline and we will be working on it. We will then be creating stability for investment. We will try to get back the money we spend from the gas pipeline, especially by setting up a customs system. This way, Rosneft will be the biggest player in this region and will be the main party that will be building Iraqi Kurdistan’s energy infrastructure.
When will this agreement take effect?
We will be implementing our agreement and will be finishing our work with Iraqi Kurdistan quickly and without any delay. We will be producing enough gas for the people of Kurdistan in 2019 and will be starting to export it abroad in 2020. This is a very short period of time for a project like this.
These gas exports will be made through Turkey. Have you spoken to Turkey about this?
Sure, but not us as Rosneft. The Russian government has an agreement with Turkey. We will certainly have people in Turkey using this gas, as well as in Europe. We have taken into account all the phases of this project. We don’t export gas just like that. We have taken everything into consideration, like buyers and users of this gas, the amount we will be exporting, the number of its users. This will be an important income for both Rosneft and Kurdistan too.
What is your main objective in pursuing this agreement specifically?
Kurdistan is a very developed place. It is productive in the areas of oil and gas. We want to work there. Working with Kurdistan’s
This is extremely important for the development of Kurdistan’s economic infrastructure
officials is very suitable. Our aim is to do business in a way we can satisfy our partners. Business is done only with partners when both parties profit. At this point in time, Iraqi Kurdistan’s government is the partner that is suitable to do business with.
You are aware that the Kurdistan Region is making preparations to hold an independence referendum. Will this event have any effect on your project in Iraqi Kurdistan?
Holding the referendum will not affect our work. We are doing business in an autonomous region in Iraq that has been recognized by law. We don’t see any problems in this regard. This place is run by Iraqi Kurdistan’s nation and it is the people of Iraqi Kurdistan who live there. That is why we don’t think we are embarking on an adventure.
To what extent do you think this project will help Iraqi Kurdistan financially?
This agreement is very important because we will be initially producing gas for the internal demand of Kurdistan. This is extremely important for the development of Kurdistan’s economic infrastructure. This will have an impact on the development of the economy and industrial development in the future. In addition, this will be a source of direct income. Exporting gas to international markets, especially European markets that have a future in gas [dealings], will build an important future.