Todd Kozel started taking an interest in Iraqi Kurdistan shortly after the overthrow of Saddam Hussein in 2003. The company has personality, with a clique of committed private shareholders and an outgoing CEO unafraid of doing business in a daunting environment.
Kozel and his investors have been rewarded with the Shaikan field, for which a production sharing agreement was signed in 2007. Since appraisal began, Shaikan has upgraded reserves regularly, and is now a world-class field, with P90 reserves of 8 billion barrels, in which the firm holds a 75% interest.
The discovery updates sent the firm’s shares rocketing from 4pps to 104pps within a year, and the recent entry of ExxonMobil to Kurdistan increased Gulf Keystone’s shares by a further 25%. The talk is now of consolidation, as new concessions run out and large capital is needed for field development in the region’s awkward geology.
While other independents may merge or be gobbled up by supermajors, the Shaikan field means that Kozel – who was recently forced to deny rumours that the firm is up for sale – could find himself at the head of either the largest independent in Iraq or sitting pretty with an injection of cash and expertise from a supermajor partner.