The governor of Nineveh province, Atheel Nujaifi, has expressed support for the oil deals signed in October between ExxonMobil and Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), according to a report from AKnews.
Atheel, who was reportedly opposed of Exxon’s KRG deals, said in a interview with Iraq Oil Report that joint oil development could help ease tensions in disputed territories.
The governor said:
“I believe we have the same authority that the KRG has. In the constitution, there’s no difference between the provinces and the regions … the KRG activated their authority. We didn’t do it, until now.“
The Mosul leaders claimed that that two of the blocks, Al Qush and Bashiqa, belong to Nineveh province and some of them threatened “violent punishment” if Exxon were to continue exploring in the disputed areas.
Following the signing of the Exxon contracts, a delegation from Mosul visited Baghdad to support Deputy Prime Minister Hussain al-Shahristani, who was working to cancel the deals.
But Exxon and the KRG’s meetings with Nujaifi have reportedly changed him from an opponent to a powerful ally in the area. The governor said: “They have given him assurances that the province will benefit from Exxon’s investments.”
The governor is a brother of the Speaker of the Iraqi Parliament, Osama [Usama] al-Nujaifi.