Iraq is considering replacing ExxonMobil with Russian companies at the supergiant West Qurna-1 oilfield, after the U.S. major angered Baghdad by venturing into Kurdistan, according to a media report citing industry sources.
The northern Kurdish region has riled Baghdad by signing deals with foreign oil majors, such as Exxon, Total and Chevron, contracts the central government rejects as illegal.
Nefte Compass, a weekly energy newsletter about the FSU and Eastern Europe, said on Thursday that Iraq is weighing whether to replace Exxon with Russia’s LUKOIL and Gazprom Neft – both already involved in the country.
It said that the proposal was due to be raised at a meeting this week between Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The meeting took place on Wednesday, but no such offers – if they were made – have been made public.
A spokesman for Russia’s second-largest crude producer LUKOIL, which operates West Qurna-2, said the company is not planning to increase its exposure in Iraq by acquiring a stake in West Qurna-1, reiterating the company’s official line that it is satisfied with its portfolio in Iraq.
Gazprom Neft, the oil arm of the world’s top natural gas producer Gazprom, declined to comment.