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The rapid advance by militant Sunni fighters across northern Iraq over the past 10 days has already hit oil operations. Key southern exports are so far unaffected but IOCs are withdrawing staff. Infrastructure projects may be shelved.
The International Energy Agency (IEA) cut its estimate for Iraq’s contribution to future oil supply growth even before the OPEC number two producer descended into chaos. While oil production in southern Iraq remains untouched, the energy industry has already started to fray as a result of violence further north.
In the north, Kurdish Peshmerga forces are in control of the main oil town of Kirkuk, a contested area that the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) has long sought to incorporate into its autonomous territory. Other parts of the main northern oil hub are under the control of Sunni fighters of the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS), though the oil fields appear to have escaped the ISIS onslaught.
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