French oil giant Total is in talks to tap opportunities to invest in autonomous Iraqi Kurdistan, its chief said Tuesday as Baghdad insists contracts should go through the central government.

“Kurdistan is part of Iraq. A lot of companies are investing in Kurdistan-Iraq and we don’t see why Total couldn’t do it,” Total chief executive officer Christophe de Margerie told reporters in Kuwait.

“We are looking at opportunities. We are discussing, but there is nothing done yet,” he said on the sidelines of the International Energy Forum.

He said Total was seeking entry into the sector through companies that already has permits to explore in the oil-rich region.

“Definitely we will go through discussions with owners of existing blocks”, but “in any case you need the approval of the Kurdish government,” he said.
Baghdad regards any contracts not signed with the central government as invalid.

On October 18, Kurdistan signed a deal with US giant ExxonMobil for it to explore six areas, a deal Baghdad strongly opposed.
In December, Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki said ExxonMobile has promised to reconsider the deal.

Source: AFP & Zawya