BEIRUT, LEBANON (4:30 P.M.) – For Syrian War observers, the capture of the Al-Omar oil fields by Kurdish militias might appear to be a strategic victory. Perhaps in Syria it is, but in the greater scheme of things throughout the region and in accordance statistical realities, this recent gain by Kurdish forces means very little at all.
That reality stands that whilst the Al-Omar field produced 7,500 barrels of oil per day before the Syrian War (about one-forth of the nationwide total), the Kirkuk and Bai Hasaan fields in Iraq, which have now been restored to the control of Baghdad produce – currently – a combined total of around 1.2 million barrels per day.
Prior to its recapture by Iraqi pro-government forces, the Kirkuk and Bai Hasaan fields provided Israel with 77 percent (Financial Times statistic for 2015) of its imported oil needs at very low prices. Needless to say, the Israeli government is very upset with Baghdad’s action over the last week.
Given the damage caused to the Al-Omar fields in the months preceding its surrender by ISIS, it would not be surprising if the energy site produces even one-tenth of its pre-war output which is, at full capacity, already dwarfed by a factor of almost 150 compared to the fully operational Kirkuk and Bai Hasaan fields in Iraq.
With these statistics being put into perspective, it can be seen that the Kurdistan cessation project – which all Western observers agree was only ever going to be possible if the Kurdish separatists possessed a major oil economy – has essentially died with Baghdad’s reclaiming of the oil fields north of Kirkuk.
In any case, it is hard to see a future in which Kurdish militias in Syria are allow to possess the Al-Omar fields after ISIS is defeated given the United States’ response, or lack thereof, to Baghdad’s recent actions and the zero tolerance policies of other regional powers such as Iraq and Turkey (who have far more bargaining power with the US) towards the Rojava separatist ideal.
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