Iraq Official Acknowledges ExxonMobil Wants to Quit West Qurna Oil Field Project

From The Washington Post

BAGHDAD — U.S. oil giant Exxon Mobil Corp. has expressed an interest in pulling out of a major oil field development project in the country’s south, a senior Iraqi oil ministry official said Wednesday.

The comments by the ministry’s licensing and contracts chief, Abdul-Mahdi al-Ameedi, were the first official acknowledgement of reports that Exxon wants to exit the 8.6 billion barrel West Qurna Phase 1 project.

“There is talk about this issue. In fact, Exxon Mobil is interested in selling its whole share or part of it to other companies and leave West Qurna,” al-Ameedi told reporters at an event in the Iraqi capital.

Irving, Texas-based Exxon Mobil is the main developer of the West Qurna-1 project. It was awarded rights to work on the field in 2009 along with minority partner Royal Dutch Shell PLC.

Exxon had no comment about the possibility that it might leave the project — a position it has maintained for weeks despite reports that have resonated in the markets.

The energy company irked Iraq’s central government when it signed up to hunt for oil in the country’s self-ruled Kurdish region late last year.

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