Under the Mountains – Kurdish Oil and Regional Politics
The development of major oil and gas reserves in the autonomous Kurdish Region of Iraq (KRI) is a recent phenomenon which has attracted major media and industry interest. It represents the rare case, in recent history, of the discovery of a large new onshore conventional petroleum province. The Kurdistan Region Government (KRG)’s formulation of its own oil policy presents an important case of sub-national authority over the natural resource sector, which may be relevant to other oil-producing countries or territories. The development of Kurdish hydrocarbons has major political implications for the KRI, its possible independence, for regional politics and energy security of its neighbours. This paper outlines the history and development of the KRI’s hydrocarbon resources, the economic, legal, and political issues and debates, and the wider implications of Kurdish oil and gas, as well as some lessons for other comparable regions.