Kurdistan Region's largest natural gas field hit by three rocket attacks in four days
The Khor Mor gas field near Chamchamal has been attacked by rockets three times in four days, with sources claiming that drones were sighted over the field repeatedly in recent months.
"At about 4:00 am today, the field again is attacked by rocket, we don't know where it hit, but we heard the sound, and the Dana gas company is ringing a warning bell in the field," a source at Khor Mor farm told Peregraf.
Operated by the UAE’s Dana Gas company, Khor Mor is the Kurdistan Region’s largest producer of natural gas. It provides feedstock for power plants in Erbil, Chamchamal, and Bazian and most of the gas used for heating and cooking in the Region.
The first attack took place on Wednesday, which injured at least two contractors according to Dana Gas. Subsequent attacks occurred on Friday and Saturday.
Following Friday’s attack, Sdiq Muhammad, the director of Qadir Karam district, confirmed to Peregraf that an attack had occurred, but that there was no damage to the facility.
It took place "near the site of [Wednesday’s] incident," he added.
The attacks are a worrying development, with one source indicating that planning could have been taking place for some time.
"In the past, three drones have flown over the gas field," a source from Dana Gas at Khor Mor told Peregraf.
"The first time was more than a month ago, when a drone came to the Khor Mor gas field and was shot at with sniper guns by field guards," the source said. "Then at night between 7:30 p.m. and 9 p.m., another drone was seen and shot," he said.
The source added that on Friday a guard observed a drone circling the field before the attack.
The source, who was closely aware of the drone’s movement, believes the goal was to "monitor and identify a location to attack, a location that would not result in casualties but send a warning.”
Muhammad confirmed to Peregraf that “Dana Gas officials had already said that they had seen drones three times near the facility.”
Sherko Jawdat, a member of the Kurdistan Parliament's Energy and Natural Resources Committee, told Peregraf that “the aim of these attacks is to put pressure on the Kurdistan Region, especially related to natural gas, but at the moment we cannot determine the party who is responsible."
Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) Deputy Minister of Natural Resources Ahmed Mufti visited the gas field following Friday’s attack and told reporters that the field “continues to develop and the attack has had no effect on producing gas and electricity.”
"Currently, 450 million cubic feet of gas is produced daily at Khor Mor," Mufti said. " There is no possibility that Dana Gas wants to withdraw. The situation is calm."
Dana Gas is heavily supported by the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation (DFC), which gave the company $250 million in loans to enable it to increase production to 690 million cubic feet by next year.
DFC and the company also have an agreement for a further $630 million expansion project in the field.
Attacks on the critical Khor Mor field constitute a new development, but oil and refining facilities in Erbil governorate have been attacked several times since a federal court ruled that the KRG’s oil and gas law is unconstitutional in February.
The KRG has firmly rejected the ruling.
Those attacks, which have been blamed on Iran and Iran-backed Iraqi militias, targeted sites associated with the KAR Group conglomerate on the pretext that it has links with Israel.
"The Iraqi side believes that the Region's oil sector depends on international companies to continue selling oil," said Mohammed Hussein, an oil sector expert. "The Region will insist on its stance."
"If Iraq is able to harass the oil companies enough for them to leave the Region's oil fields, then the Region's oil sector will end and the KRG will not be able to continue this process," Hussein added.
Jawdat said that Erbil and Baghdad must agree on an oil and gas law in the Council of Representatives in order for the Kurdistan Region to safely produce and export hydrocarbons and for the two governments to have positive political and economic relations.
Earlier this year, KRG Prime Minister Masrour Barzani floated plans to export natural gas from Khor Mor to Europe.
The court ruling and the attacks on energy infrastructure came after those plans became public.