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International insights: Kurdistan opportunities

Posted by: Mark Burslem

As part of a new feature, WRS are looking into the opportunities that exist in various international locations for experienced personnel within the energy sector.

In this edition, we shine a light into Kurdistan and the opportunities that are on offer.

Chris Morton-Collings - Global Business Development Manager provides us with the answers.

Where is Kurdistan and what are the main Energy projects that are located there?

Kurdistan is a semi-autonomous state in Iraq that borders Iran, Syria and Turkey. The capital of Kurdistan is Erbil, also known by its Kurdish name ‘Hawler’, which has a population of 1.5 million. Erbil is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world, with life in the city dating as far back as 6000 B.C.

Erbil is far from what you’d expect from an Iraqi city, with shopping centre, high rise building and upmarket hotels everywhere as it has been very Westernised. The old and new coexist side-by-side in a city where a few minutes’ walk can take you from your five-star hotel to a bustling street-bazaar!

The main projects in Kurdistan are oil and gas exploration and production operations carried out by multiple international operating companies, including some of the world’s biggest names such as Exxon, Chevron and Gazprom.

Who are the main players and what kind of opportunities exist?

The main stakeholders in the area currently are Gulf Keystone, GKPI, DNO, HKN Energy and TAQA as well as new entrants Genel Energy. Significant opportunities exist there across exploration, production, operations and EPC spaces with all of these companies.

How do candidates obtain a Visa?

Western candidates are provided a visa on arrival which is then converted to a residency permit – which WRS can help with.

What kind of rotations are on offer?

Multiple rotations, equal time and six and two, five and two – depending on the clients’ operational requirements.

What kind of accommodation is available?

The standard of accommodation is extremely high. Normal accommodation for ex-pats in the city is a two-bedroom modern apartment with all the amenities that you would expect back home.

What is the pay like and is it tax free?

Depending on client operational involvement, day rates are in the upper quartile for current market conditions. A flat rate of 5% is applied to all personal income in Kurdistan. All employers must register their employees with the Labour and Social Security Department for a compulsory 5% social security tax to be deducted. Contributions for employers are 12%.

Tax provision, social security and advisory payments can all be provided by WRS.

Is Kurdistan a mature region for Energy projects and do they have decommissioning or renewable opportunities?

The Energy industry is roughly 12-15 years old, therefore, ongoing training and development of Kurdish national is a high priority. Older operational fields are undergoing work over projects to increase their life span.

Is Kurdistan considered a volatile region to work in and what is the political climate like?

Kurdistan is a safe and friendly place to work, however, it is a region of Iraq and such caution must be exercised. Foreigners should try to avoid travelling outside of Kurdistan, as other regions of Iraq and borders with neighbouring countries can be very dangerous. It’s advisable for all visitors to carry identification with them at all times, to avoid being detained by the local authorities.

What advice do you have for candidates that are interested in working in Kurdistan?

Call WRS – we are working with a number of the world’s largest energy companies on an array of exciting projects and can ensure that you will work in a compliant commercial manner that will minimise risk.

Worldwide Recruitment Solutions (WRS) offer a bespoke, locally assisted manpower provision and contracting service and we are confident we can deliver to the highest level on all requirements.

WRS have been working with the primary stakeholders in Kurdistan for the last five years and are engaged with 60% of the oil and gas companies in the region, so if you are interested in finding out more please email:  or call us on +44 161 925 2626.

Register your CVTo hear about the latest jobs in Kurdistan.

For more information about what it's like to live and work in Kurdistan, check out our blog on Erbil.

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