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Rosneft suspends works at one of blocks in Kurdistan due to proximity to Syria

The move is dictated by safety concerns

MOSCOW, October 17. /TASS/. Rosneft has temporarily suspended the works in Iraq’s Kurdistan at block 8 due to proximity to the Syrian border, First Vice President of Russia’s top oil producer Rosneft Eric Liron told reporters on Thursday, adding that the works at block 11 are underway.

It has been decided to suspend the works at block 8 as it is located closer to the Syrian border, until complete safety of the company’s employees is provided, he said. Nevertheless, Rosneft maintains plans on works in Iraq’s Kurdistan, the first vice president noted, adding that the proximity to the Syrian border is the only deterrent, and production plans on block 11 remain unchanged.

Liron stated earlier in an interview with TASS that exploration works at fields in Iraq’s Kurdistan were launched earlier this year. The work is expected to continue in 2020 and may take several years, he informed.

Rosneft and the government of Iraq’s autonomous Kurdistan Region signed a series of agreements on cooperation in the exploration and production of hydrocarbons, including a production sharing agreement regarding five blocks in Iraqi Kurdistan — Batil, Zawita, Qasrok, Harir-Bejil and Darato — in 2017 and 2018. The Russian company is the project operator, holding an 80% stake in the production sharing agreement.

On October 9, Ankara announced the launch of Operation Peace Spring in northern Syria, which began with airstrikes on Kurdish positions. The operation’s goal is to create a buffer zone along the Turkish border, where, according to Ankara, Syrian refugees residing in Turkey could return. The Syrian Arab News Agency SANA slammed the operation as aggression. The international community condemned Ankara’s actions.