Minister: 'West Qurna 1 deal imminent'

Deal 'close': Iraqi Oil Minister Abdul-Kareem Luaibi

ExxonMobil is reported to be close to signing a deal to sell off substantial slices of its controlling stake in Iraq's West Qurna-1 oilfield to state-owned players PetroChina and Pertamina of Indonesia.

The US supermajor, which currently holds a 60% interest, is set to sell 25% to PetroChina and 10% to Pertamina with a deal to be sealed “maybe after two to three weeks”, Iraqi Oil Minister Abdul-Kareem Luaibi confirmed to Reuters on the sidelines of a ministerial meeting in New Delhi on Friday.

The putative deal would leave ExxonMobil with only a 25% stake as operator of the $50 billion project in southern Iraq that currently produces about 480,000 barrels per day.

ExxonMobil and Anglo-Dutch partner Shell won the contract to develop the 8.7-billion-barrel field in 2010 and have raised their production plateau target to 2.825 million barrels per day.

ExxonMobil informed Baghdad last year it wanted to sell its stake in the West Qurna 1 project, indicating it was keen to focus on controversial deals with Kurdistan that have angered the federal regime.

However, the Texas-based giant has subsequently backpedalled and earlier this year upped its planned investments in the scheme to $1.65 billion, signaling a continued commitment to the project.

PetroChina and Pertamina were both earlier reported to be looking to come onboard as partners in the project.

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