Oil giant Exxon Mobil is expected to soon announce that it is pulling out of non-Kurdish Iraq, an energy expert source told Al-Monitor Wednesday on condition of anonymity. The decision would not apply to Exxon’s contracts in Kurdish Iraq, which have been a source of on-going tension with Baghdad authorities for the company, the source said.
Exxon had sought to renegotiate the terms of its agreements with Iraqi central government energy authorities, but Iraqi leaders had not been willing to set such a precedent, the western source said.
Earlier Wednesday, UPI reported that Iraq’s Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki “is reportedly thinking of throwing out U.S. oil giant Exxon Mobil from the giant West Qurna-1 oilfield for signing an ‘illegal’ production deal with semi-autonomous Kurdistan and bringing in Russian companies instead,” the wire service reported.
Maliki visited Russia last week, and reportedly signed $4.2 billion worth of arms purchase agreements with Russian firms–one of the largest arms sales agreements Russia has made in three decades.
Maliki “has been gunning for Exxon Mobil, the world’s largest oil company, since October 2011 when it signed an extensive exploration deal with the Kurdistan Regional Government, which runs the semi-autonomous enclave in northern Iraq which has long had ambitions of independence,” the UPI report said.
In June, Iraq surpassed Iran to become the second largest oil producer in OPEC.
Iraq’s “crude exports rose to 2.7 million barrels a day this month after the Kurdish region resumed crude shipments that had been halted since April because of a conflict with the central government about oil sales, Falah al-Amri, chairman of the State Oil Marketing Organization, said at [an October 2, 2012] news conference in Baghdad.