Rosneft is moving into Kurdistan’s upstream sector, where there are currently 22 open blocks. Minister of Natural Resources Ashti Hawrami put 20 on offer last December (MEES, 9 December 2016). Two more have since been relinquished and are also now on the table; Taza (formerly Oil Search 60%, Total 20%, KRG 20%) and Baranan (formerly Total 60%, Murphy Oil 20%, KRG 20%) (MEES, 28 April).

The most contentious of the blocks is located in Nineveh province along the Syrian border and containing the flashpoint Sinjar district. It is strategically important for the Syrian conflict and controlling cross-border movement and MEES was informed in March that Russian firms were interested in it (MEES, 10 March). There is a high probability of Rosneft snapping up the license for the block. (CONTINUED - 225 WORDS)