ExxonMobil has pulled out of half of the six exploration blocks it operated inIraq’s semi-autonomous region of Kurdistan, Reuters reported.
According to Kurdistan’s Minister of Natural Resources, Ashti Hawrami, and Exxon spokeswoman, Lauren Kerr, the oil company has relinquish its operations in the Qara Hanjeer, Arbat East, and Betwata blocks, informed Euro News. This comes as the semi-autonomous region saw no major impact on its crude oil production from OPEC’s output cuts, based on a separate report by Reuters.
Since 2014, international oil companies have renounced a total of 19 exploration blocks in Kurdistan. Additionally, Chevron, the second-largest US oil company after Exxon Mobil, relinquished its interest in the Rovi block north of Erbil at the end of 2015 but continued to test wells in the Sarta area. Moreover, in August, Iraqi state oil firm SOMO blacklisted three tankers involved in shipping crude from Kurdistan, swelling the dispute over oil revenue-sharing between Baghdad and the Kurdistan regional government.
In related news, Iraq agreed to reduce output by around 200,000b/d as part of a broader deal for the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) to curtail production in the first deal in tandem with non-OPEC since 2001. Yet, Hawrami stated that he had yet to hear from Baghdad the exact proposals on output reduction. Hawrami also said Erbil’s cooperation with Baghdad had greatly improved over the past year but added that there was still no resolution of budget transfers from the central government to Kurdistan for 2017.