For all three protagonists – Turks, Federal Iraqis and Kurds – oil and gas lie at the heart of their strategies. “Turkey would like to see hydrocarbon resources as a means for peace, prosperity and integrating people, not a means for disputes,” Deputy Turkish oil minister, Hasan Murat Mercan told delegates at the Iraq Future Energy Conference on 18 September. Calling for “a region of integration,” Mr Mercan argued energy resource-poor Turkey and oil-rich Iraq were ideally suited to help each other. But the fact is hydrocarbon-fuelled disputes have pushed relations between Ankara and Irbil on one hand and Baghdad on the other almost to breaking point over the past year.

In July, following Chevron’s announcement that it was investing in two Kurdish blocks, Baghdad sent troops northwards in the direction of the crude export hub of Fishkabur, prompting KRG President Masoud Barzani to order a major mobilization of Kurdish Peshmerga forces (MEES, 6 August). Summer’s investment announcements by Chevron, Total and Gazprom, coupled with further evidence that the Kurds are progressing with construction of an independent export pipeline to Turkey, with Ankara’s support, woke Baghdad up to the realization that its oil strategy faces collapse. (CONTINUED - 1836 WORDS)