“The American oil giant pulled out because of the Iranian influence. Based on previous experience, Sulaimaniyah is believed to be affiliated with the Iranian axis. A company like Exxon does not wish to invest in an area that is affiliated with Iran,” Saeed said.
Saeed did not exclude technical issues as another reason that led to the withdrawal of Exxon Mobil, saying, “Oil exploration in the Sulaimaniyah areas has not led to encouraging outcomes.”
Exxon Mobil had helped attract other international companies to the region, such as Chevron, Total and Gazprom. During an oil and gas conference in London on Dec. 5, the KRG announced that it is getting ready to launch a new tender for oil and gas exploration in 20 excavation blocks in early 2017. However, the withdrawal of Exxon Mobil from three excavation blocks will discourage major oil companies to invest in new fields.
Curran Mustafa, a researcher for the Kurdish American Institute for Economic Research in Erbil, expects the drop in oil prices to push a number of oil companies to abandon their investments in the Kurdistan Region. He told Al-Monitor, “The decline may be one of the effects of Exxon Mobil’s withdrawal from three excavation blocks in the region, but the company is still operating in other areas and has yet to announce its intention to leave the Kurdistan Region.”
He added, “Political instability in Sulaimaniyah province is another reason for Exxon Mobil’s pullout from these three blocks,” he said.