Iraq and US in Talks over ExxonMobil Dispute

Iraq is reported to be in talks with the United States about the exploration deals signed by ExxonMobil in Iraqi Kurdistan without Baghdad’s approval, according to a report from Reuters.

Deputy Prime Minister for Energy Affairs Hussain Al Shahristani (pictured) said that Iraq was considering several options, not sanctions, over the deal and there was no deadline to take a decision against the company.

“After this (deal) was announced, yes there have been talks with the American government … It is not a matter of mediation as much as it is a matter that concerns both governments,” he said in an interview.

“Now we have several options. The Iraqi government is studying them carefully … there is no deadline, these are grave decisions that need time … the company is studying its options and the Iraqi party is studying its options.”

He said any decision will be discussed with ExxonMobil first before a public announcement.

The US State Department has said it told ExxonMobil, and all major US oil companies looking to work in Iraq, there were significant risks to signing deals with the KRG before Iraq passed a national oil law aimed at resolving ongoing territorial and oil disputes.

Shahristani rejected earlier comments by Kurdish President Masoud Barzani in which he said Iraq’s prime minister, Nouri Al Maliki, was told of the ExxonMobil deal prior to its signing and had no objection.

“There has been no approval by the prime minister over any contract that was not presented to the cabinet,” he said.

ExxonMobil has not commented on the agreement and Iraqi oil officials say the company has not responded to their requests for an explanation.

Shahristani reiterated that the Iraqi Oil Ministry still had still not received any response from ExxonMobil.

(Source: Reuters)

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