Dubai — Iraq is in talks with US energy companies to find potential buyers for ExxonMobil's 32.7% stake in West Qurna 1, the state-owned Iraqi News Agency reported citing an April 15 oil ministry statement, as OPEC's second largest producer courts new stakeholders in one of the world's largest oil fields with estimated recoverable reserves of over 20 billion barrels.
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The ministry didn't disclose any more details about the talks. ExxonMobil couldn't be immediately reached for comment.
Other partners in West Qurna 1 are PetroChina (32.7%), ITOCHU Corp. (19.6%), Indonesia's Pertamina (10%), and Iraq's Oil Exploration Co. (5%).
The Iraq ministry's relationship with Exxon was strained in 2019 when it withdrew its foreign staff in May, citing the deteriorating security situation, raising the ire of then Oil Minister Thamer al-Ghadhban. The withdrawal took place while ExxonMobil and PetroChina were in negotiations with the Iraqi government to run the Southern Iraq Integrated Project, a complex, multibillion-dollar development. Current oil minister Ihsan Ismaael said on Aug. 23, 2020, that Iraq was still in talks with ExxonMobil to develop SIIP, but gave no further details.
Iraq awarded the contract to develop the southern field to Exxon, Shell and Oil Exploration Co. in 2010. In 2018, Shell sold its 19.6% stake to ITOCHU.
Exit from Kurdistan
Norwegian oil and gas operator DNO bought ExxonMobil 's 32% stake in the Baeshiqa license in Iraq's Kurdistan region amid plans to boost spending in the semiautonomous area and speed up production from existing wells in 2021, it said on Feb. 11.
Iraq signed $8 billion worth of deals with US energy companies in August during Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi's first state visit to the US. The deals with five companies included an upstream pact with Chevron and power agreements with GE. Other companies were Baker Hughes, Honeywell and Stellar Energy.