How would you assess the current state of the oil and gas sector in the Kurdistan Region?
There’s a lot of development and economic activity, and the KRG has been supportive in advancing its plans for the export of oil. Dr. Ashti Hawrami has made this explicitly clear with targets of 1 million bpd by 2015 and 2 million bpd by 2019. These are aggressive targets, and there’s a political balancing act involved that falls outside our area of interest. Our job is to find the resources and then progress as rapidly as possible to ensure that the KRG can meet these goals. I believe our future here has the potential for greatness; we expect 2014 to be critical, potentially transformational years for us.

Can you give us any updates regarding drilling operations in Kurdamir and Garmian blocks?
In the Kurdamir block, the Kurdamir-3 appraisal well has reached its total depth and is in the process of being tested. 3D seismic surveying was also recently completed in that area. In the Garmian Block, the Hasira-1 and Baram-1 exploration wells are being spudded. In addition, we have drilled two wells in our Mil Qasim Upper Bakhtiari well program.

What are your expectations for the Kurdamir discovery?
The Kurdamir-1 and Kurdamir-2 wells found approximately 974 million boe within the Oligocene and Eocene reservoirs. We estimate that the Kurdamir-3 well will have a potential production capacity of between 4,000 and 7,000 bpd. Our estimates of the Kurdamir discovery as a whole indicate total prospective resources of approximately 1.6 billion boe. The Baram-1 well will be the highest impact well that we will be drilling and could potentially prove that the Kurdamir structure extends into the Garmian block. If successful, Baram-1 will be a major extension to this field and our block, and will prove that this field is really quite significant.

What are the company’s future operational goals?
We feel that there is significant potential for production growth in the Kurdistan Region. Last year, our Sarqala-1 well, located in the Garmian block, discovered significant resources and was able to produce approximately 1 million bbl. These resources were either trucked to the local market or exported to the federal system. So, there was a discovery, but we expect that there is quite a bit more to find. We are confident that these figures can be increased to 30,000 bpd relatively quickly. In addition, we are investigating prospects at Qulijan, Chwar, and Alyan. Simply put, oil is not in short supply. What you look for and what you need, however, is the proper geology.

Is it challenging to hire locals to work in the oil and gas industry?
Oil companies can offer the fact that each project will take approximately 20 years to progress from exploration to production. So, there are definite, long-term careers to be had. I think the companies themselves can play a role by providing elements such as international certifications during their respective training programs. WesternZagros does this, and we have seen that it allows workers significant flexibility in terms of choosing to either remain locally employed and support the government and private sector or go abroad to better enhance their careers or abilities. The government has always been a large employer here in the Kurdistan Region, so the concept of companies bringing in concrete opportunities is new. As a result, there’s a learning process taking place, and I think the opportunities that oil and gas companies provide are truly exciting for the local populace. Overall, given the acceleration of investment in the Region and the capability development that is already taking place, it’s certainly an exciting time to be involved in Kurdistan.