US Consul General hails Erbil- Baghdad energy partnership

US Consul General Robert Palladino on Saturday, October 2, hailed investments by US companies in the Kurdistan Region’s energy sector, arguing that they result in benefits for local communities.

"The United States believes strongly that it is the private sector that is the true engine for growth,” Palladino said during a press conference at an oil extraction facility in Duhok governorate operated by US-based firm HKN Energy.

"I’m pleased to see the United States and the Iraqi Kurdistan Region partnering so closely to create jobs, bring tangible benefits, to improve the environment, and to make the great Kurdistan Region even more energy secure,” he added.

In particular, Palladino noted that the Swara Tika facility near Sarsang employs 450 locals. Earlier in the day, he toured a community center whose renovation in 2019 was funded by HKN.

He also referred to plans to improve natural gas capture at the operation, which remains a persistent problem despite the Kurdistan Regional Government's (KRG) directive to reduce flaring.

HKN's Vice President of Government Affairs Matthew Zais also spoke during the press conference and said that the facility will pump 55,000 barrels of crude oil per day when it is completed next summer.

Zais claimed this would constitute 10 percent of the oil produced in the Kurdistan Region.

He also listed a number of investments and local improvements by his company, like the renovation of the community center and the construction of a school.

Palladino also praised the partnership between the Kurdistan Region and the US beyond the energy sector, while admitting that energy security is critical to Washington’s approach to the Region.

"The United States is committed to the Kurdistan Region and Iraq,” the consul general said.

Whether US forces and investments will remain in the country has been a major topic of conversation in recent weeks, given the US military withdrawal from Afghanistan and the upcoming Iraqi parliamentary elections.

"United States President Biden believes that the security of the Middle East is dependent upon the security of Iraq and the security of Iraq is dependent upon the security of this great Kurdistan Region,” Palladino continued.

"Energy security plays such an important part to our overall security.”

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