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The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) has long used the threat of an independence referendum as a negotiating tool with Baghdad. But then on 7 June President Masoud Barzani announced that a referendum would be held on 25 September (MEES, 16 June). Yet, despite expectations of a large vote in favor of independence, this still looks unlikely to be realized.
The KRG is economically dependent on Turkey, particularly since relations with Baghdad have soured further in recent years. It’s economic lifeline is 550,000 b/d of oil exports, all of which transit through Turkey, primarily through a 700,000 b/d pipeline to Ceyhan, although some 36,000 b/d is also trucked. The government hopes to start gas exports to Turkey in 2020, with Russian state-firm Rosneft set to construct an export pipeline.