Exxon Mobil (
), the largest U.S. oil company and one of the major players in
reviving the Iraqi oil industry, has been excluded from that
country's next energy auction.
The company is officially being excluded because of several
exploration contracts it negotiated with Kurdish officials in the
north of Iraq.The central Iraqi government and authorities in
semi-autonomous Kurdistan are locked in a dispute over oil.
Iraq's next oil and natural gas auction will take place next
month, the Associated Press reported.
"Exxon has been removed from the list of qualified companies
because it refused to abandon the deals with the Kurdish region
as requested by the Ministry of Oil," Iraq's Oil Ministry's
Licensing and Petroleum Contracts Department deputy head Sabah
al-Saidi said, the AP reported.
Iraq is opening 29 trillion cubic feet of natural gas and
about 10 billion barrels of oil to bids in its next oil auction
taking place at the end of May.
Late last year, Kurdish officials announced they negotiated
six exploration contracts with Exxon Mobil. The announcement
angered Baghdad, which does not recognize contracts made
independently of the central government.
Earlier this month, Kurdish President Massoud Barzani said his
government did nothing wrong, and broke no laws in negotiating
Oil and energy ministers on both sides have claimed Exxon
Mobil is in various stages of either freezing or upholding its
Iraq has 115 billion barrels of oil in proven reserves.
Kurdistan to the north, has roughly 2 billion, but claims some of
Iraq's largest oil fields near the city of Kirkuk. The country
has only recently surpassed 3 million barrels a day in
production, a level not seen in several decades.
Exxon Mobil, however, has so far retained its previous
contacts with Iraq's Oil Ministry, where it takes the lead in
developing one of the country's largest oil fields -- West Qurna
1 to the south -- which has roughly 9 billion barrels of oil.
In Thursday trading in New York, Exxon Mobil fell 14 cents to