By John Lee.
Exxon Mobil has informed the Iraqi government that it wants to pull out of the $50-billion West Qurna-1 oilfield project, according to a report from Reuters.
Abdul Mahdi Al Ameedi, director of the oil ministry’s Petroleum Contracts and Licensing Directorate (PCLD), said:
"Exxon has stated in its letter that it has started discussions with some international oil companies to sell its stake."
Another oil official said that Baghdad plans to reply to the letter from Exxon by Sunday, but it was unclear who would replace Exxon at the 400,000-bpd oilfield, which it works with minority partner Shell.
Some sources have suggested that Baghdad wants to replace Exxon with companies from Russia or China; Russia's LUKoil and Gazprom Neft are already working in Iraq, and LUKoil, which already runs a project to develop West Qurna-2, has said that it lacks the resources to take on a project like West Qurna-1 for the moment.
Earlier today, LUKoil signed the contract for the exploration of Block 10.