Crescent signs regional co-operation pact

Crescent Petroleum has signed a co-operation agreement with Russia's Rosneft, in which the companies will seek deals jointly in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. State-dominated Rosneft is Russia's largest oil company, and has in recent years started to expand internationally, and Crescent Petroleum - together with affiliate Dana Gas - is the region's largest privately owned oil and gas company.

The companies would start by focusing on investing in natural-gas projects in the region, with Crescent's executive director Badr Jafar telling Reuters "we have already identified a number of robust opportunities, and we expect to be able to announce our first joint project in the Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) region within the coming weeks".
Given the high degree of nationalisation in the energy sectors of the GCC (Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Oman, and the United Arab Emirates), natural gas opportunities normally remain at least somewhat open, given that countries like the United Arab Emirates - with the exception of the small northern emirates - and Qatar prefer large, experienced investors in both their oil and gas sectors, and only Oman is offering some acreage to less experienced players. Crescent has for years been trying to unlock a gas pipeline import deal from Iran's Salman field, offshore in the Gulf and very close to the UAE maritime border, to Sharjah. It has constructed the pipeline and receiving facilities, but has fallen into a price dispute with Iran, who refuses to honour the originally agreed prices and demands higher payments. Given the low global gas prices now, the deal could perhaps be unlocked anyway, with a Rosneft entry providing some political clout and an opportunity for Iran to save face, although the Crescent statement seems to suggest perhaps an upstream project of a kind is in the making. Crescent otherwise has most of its operations in Iraqi Kurdistan and Egypt, which could be of interest to Rosneft to farm in to, although the GCC offers Crescent considerable protection against its main fear: potential lawsuits against the company for its part in Russia's confiscation of old Yukos assets.


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