Can Exporting Natural Gas Save Iraqi Kurdistan?

The pipeline project is due to be completed by the end of 2017 or beginning of 2018, says Sherko Jawdat, the chairman of the Natural Resources Committee in the Iraqi Kurdish Parliament, although they don't know the exact volumes that will be exported. “If the region works on this project with dedication, and if there is transparency about the revenues, this project would play a huge role in solving our financial crisis,” he notes.

It is also expected that the new pipeline will carry gas out of Kirkuk to Turkey.

“The local authorities in Kirkuk have agreed that they will participate in this regional project,” confirms Najat Hussein, a member of the Kirkuk provincial council's Energy and Natural Resources Committee. “Work on the project will start soon but it is not yet clear how long the construction of a pipeline from Kirkuk will take, or when it will be completed.”

Kirkuk's gas will be extracted from the Bai Hassan fields in the Salahaddin province, which are also under the control of the Iraqi Kurdish military, Hussein says.

However there are some issues. As the start date for the pipeline project approaches, local analysts are warning that if the regional government uses the same policy it has for oil exports, then the gas pipeline won't help anyone. In fact it could make things worse.

“It is true that exporting gas is very important for Iraqi Kurdistan,” Mohammed Raouf, a professor of economics at the University of Sulaymaniyah, told NIQASH. “But what is even more important is the policy that will guide the project and how this policy works to serve the interests of the region's people.”

“If there is no transparent policy on revenues for the gas pipeline then this project will only worsen the region's economic crisis,” he argues.

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