Rosneft in talks to join Exxon in Iraq
Moscow, June 22, 2012
Russia's top crude oil producer, Rosneft, has been in talks with ExxonMobil over the possibility of teaming up with the American major to tap Iraq's huge West Qurna-1 oilfield, Kommersant daily reported on Friday.
The daily, citing 'sources familiar with the situation', said Rosneft may secure 20 percent in the project operated by Exxon in southern Iraq.
West Qurna-1, an 8.7-billion-barrel field in southern Iraq, is producing 406,000 barrels per day, which is expected to rise by 100,000 bpd later this year, an Iraqi oil official said in April, as the country looks to double output over the next 3 years during its recovery after years of sanctions and war.
Sources at Rosneft also confirmed to Reuters that the company had been in talks with Exxon over Iraq but declined to elaborate. Kommersant said the talks could be wrapped up within a month.
Spokesmen for Rosneft and Exxon were not immediately available to comment.
Rosneft and Exxon struck up a partnership last April to develop Russia's Arctic offshore riches as well as oil in western Siberia. Russia's top crude producer gained access to Exxon's project in North America in exchange.
Exxon's participation in West Qurna is complicated by the Iraqi government's concerns over the company's plans to tap reserves in the country's semi-autonomous Kurdistan region.
The U.S. company had angered Baghdad by signing last year an exploration deal with the Kurdistan Regional Government, which the central government considers illegal.
On Thursday, Lukoil, Russia's No.2 oil producer, also offered Rosneft participation in the West Qurna-2 oilfield in Iraq.
West Qurna-2 is the world's second-largest undeveloped field, with recoverable oil reserves of around 14 billion barrels, Lukoil said.-Reuters