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Exxon sells Iraq oil stake to PetroChina

2013-11-29 10:48 Global Times Web Editor: qindexing

American energy company Exxon Mobil sold part of its controversial stake Thursday in a massive Iraqi oilfield to PetroChina and Indonesia's Pertamina amid a long-running row with Iraq's central government.

The sale of the stake in the West Qurna-1 field in south Iraq, one of the country's largest, marks a key step toward resolving the dispute with the central government over Exxon's contracts with the autonomous Kurdish region.

"The agreement was signed for Exxon Mobil to sell part of its 60 percent stake," oil ministry spokesman Assem Jihad told AFP.

PetroChina is taking a 25 percent stake in the oilfield, while Pertamina will hold 10 percent, thereby reducing Exxon's share to 25 percent.

Anglo-Dutch energy firm Shell will retain its 15 percent stake, while the Iraqi government holds the remaining 25 percent.

Asked whether the sale resolved the dispute between the Iraqi central government and Exxon, Jihad replied, "We do not have problems with international companies who respect their promises to the Iraqi government, and we respect all efforts toward investing in the oil industry in Iraq."

In January 2010, Iraq completed a deal with Exxon and Anglo-Dutch giant Shell to develop production at the field, which has proven reserves of 8.5 billion barrels of oil.

In October 2011, however, Exxon signed an oil exploration deal with the Kurdistan region in northern Iraq covering six areas, including two that are claimed by both the Iraqi central government and Kurdistan.

Baghdad says all oil contracts must go through the central government and regards any that do not do so as illegal.

Iraq has repeatedly given an ultimatum to Exxon to either sell its stake in West Qurna-1 or give up its Kurdish deals, but has never set a deadline or outlined any potential consequences.

The American energy firm nevertheless told Baghdad a year ago that it was looking to sell its stake.

Iraq is heavily reliant on oil production for state revenues, and is looking to dramatically ramp up crude output to fund reconstruction of its economy.

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