The Kurdistan-Iraq Oil and Gas Conference in Erbil heard confirmation that the Kurdistan Regional Government has signed an oil exploration contract with ExxonMobil, the world's largest oil company.
Ashti Hawrami, the minister for natural resources, told the conference that the KRG had signed a contract with ExxonMobil and that the federal government was kept informed throughout the negotiations.
He said, "This will make a dynamic change in the region and will lead to mergers and acquisitions." He said that Kurdistan had initially signed contracts with "small and beautiful" companies and was now working with "the giant and magnificent".
In answer to questions from the audience, Dr Hawrami said the ExxonMobil contract was signed on October 18 and involves six exploration areas. "This agreement is good news not just for us but for all Iraq. This is also good news for the industry. It adds more value in terms of expertise and investment," he said.
Dr Hawrami was speaking at the two-day conference which attracted hundreds of industry executives from around the world, including representatives from major oil companies not currently working in the region.
The conference was opened by Prime Minister Barham Salih on Sunday and was attended by Kamal Kirkuki, the Speaker of the Kurdistan Parliament, Selahattin Cimen, Turkey's deputy energy minister, and Britain's ambassador to Iraq Michael Aron.