Kurdistan, Iraq’s mostly autonomous northern region, is brimming with oil, but the big oil companies won’t touch it. The Kurdish government gladly hands out exploration contracts, but taking one invites the wrath of the central government in Baghdad. That’s left the forbidden fruit to “wildcatters,” old-fashioned, small-time oil explorers willing to take big risks, the Wall Street Journal reports.
The fields are in something of a legal limbo, and even if that situation is resolved, the crude would need to be pumped through Turkey—which fears a powerful, oil-rich Kurdistan. But the lure of black gold has brought plenty of risk-takers. “For a company of our size, there is nothing like this anywhere in the world,” said one wildcatter.