Independent oil firm Genel Energy has become the latest company operating in the Kurdistan region of Iraq to report that it has begun the process of returning its staffing levels there to normal. The news comes after Kurdish Peshmerga forces were engaged with militants from the so-called Islamic State in the region’s border areas during recent weeks, with the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) ordering a halt to exploration activities near combat zones in early August.
Genel said Monday that the decision to resume full operations was made following a significant improvement in the security situation in the border area of the Kurdish territory and after consultation with the KRG, the UK Foreign Office and other authorities. Genel’s decision follows Canadian firm Oryx Petroleum’s announcement September 3 that it was resuming its operations in the Hawler license area of Kurdistan thanks to “tangible improvements to the security environment”.
On the same day the UK Foreign Office lowered its foreign travel advice status for Erbil and areas to the west of the city; the Foreign Office had warned against all travel to the area, but it is now advising against “all but essential travel” to Erbil city and other parts of Kurdistan. Genel said its operations in the Kurdistan region remain safe and secure. Production at its Taq Taq and Tawke fields has been “entirely unaffected” and has risen to record levels.
Since the start of September combined production from the Taq Taq and Tawke fields has averaged 234,000 barrels of oil per day, with piped exports from both fields totaling an average of 182,000 bopd (boosted by recent upgrade work to a pipeline). Oil sector analysts at London-based investment bank Westhouse Securities commented that they were “encouraged to see that the security situation in the border region of Kurdistan has improved”.