The Russian oil producer Lukoil has turned down an offer from the Iraqi government to replace Exxon Mobil at the West Qurna-1 field in Iraq.
The development of a large-scale project such as West Qurna 1 would bring additional risks to the company, which is already developing the West Qurna 2 project in Iraq, which requires up to $5bn investment, said Andrey Kuzyaev, head of Lukoil Overseas.
Earlier this year Baghdad considered inviting Russia’s Lukoil and Gazprom Neft – both already operating a number of projects in the country, instead of Exxon Mobil to develop the West Qurna-1. Iraqi authorities were angered by ExxonMobil’s deal signed with the Kurdistan regional government , sources in the industry told RT.
In 2010 Exxon and the semi-autonomous Kurdistan regional government signed a number of deals to develop six blocks in West Qurna without Baghdad’s approval. Outraged by the move the Iraqi authorities threatened the American company with sanctions.
Later ExxonMobil told the Iraqi government it wants to give up the $50 billion project of West Qurna-1. Iraq expects Exxon to complete the sale of its shares in West Qurna-1 by the end of the year.
Meanwhile CNPC unit Petrochina and several other companies such as British BP and Italy’s ENI have been reportedly negotiating for Exxon’s 60% stake in order to develop West Qurna-1 in partnership with Royal Dutch Shell, according to Iraqi sources
Currently Lukoil holds a dominant 75% stake in the West Qurna-2 oil field. It is developing the oil deposits in partnership with Iraqi state-run North Oil Company since Norway’s Statoil left the project.
The West Qurna field is believed to hold about 43 billion barrels, making it the second largest oil field in the world after Ghawar in Saudi Arabia.