The Kurdistan Regional Government announced Friday that the
Exxon Mobil Corp. (
) told its president this week the oil-and-gas major is committed
to a controversial exploration contract that has angered
officials of Iraq's national government.
"In a meeting with President Masoud Barzani in Washington DC
this week, the CEO of Exxon Mobil, Rex Tillerson, stated that
Exxon Mobil will continue its operations in the Kurdistan
the Kurdish regional government said in a
Exxon Mobil signed a contract with the Kurdish regional
government last November to explore six blocks in Kurdistan, the
semiautonomous region in northern Iraq that is frequently at odds
with the country's central government.
"Mr. Tillerson said Exxon Mobil is committed to the contracts
that it has signed with both the Iraq government and with the
Kurdistan Regional Government," the Kurdish regional government
Iraq's Oil Minister Abdul Kareem Luaibi said on Monday Exxon
Mobil had sent the oil ministry a second letter confirming the
company's intention to freeze its deal with the Kurdish regional
according to Reuters
On Tuesday, Ashti Hawrami, Kurdistan's oil minister, said
Luaibi's comments were "rubbish."
Iraq has the world's fourth-largest proved reserves with 115
billion barrels of oil,
according to the U.S. Energy Information
. Kurdistan itself has proved reserves of 2 billion barrels of
Exxon Mobil's agreement to develop Kurdish oil has excluded
the company from Iraq's next oil lease sale.
Tensions between Kurdistan and Iraq's central government are
flaring over exploration rights and payments. Iraq does not
consider exploration contracts made outside the central
government to be legal.
Earlier in the week, Kurdish authorities halted the export of
oil from Kurdistan to Iraq over pending payments to oil companies
the regional government claims Iraq has not made.
On Monday, Hussain al-Shahristani, Iraq's deputy prime
minster for energy, accused Kurdistan of smuggling oil to Iraq's
historical enemy, Iran, and purposely damaging Iraq's
In a speech on Thursday, Kurdish President Barzani said his
government has done nothing wrong, and that it can lawfully
negotiate its own exploration contracts with foreign oil