Anglo-Dutch supermajor Shell is considering divesting its oilfields in Iraq as part of its global $30 billion asset disposal programme, industry sources said on Monday.
Shell is seeking to slim down its vast oil and gas portfolio following the $54 billion acquisition of BG Group in February, which transformed it into the world's top liquefied natural gas trader.
With oil prices having slumped since 2014 the company wants to focus on business areas with the highest returns such as LNG and deep-water oil production in Brazil and the Gulf of Mexico.
A spokesman for Shell in London declined to comment when contacted by Reuters.
Shell, which has been present in Iraq for over a century, has found only limited financial benefits in recent years from its involvement in Iraq's oil production, where it is paid in crude oil but has limited say on production strategy, the sources told Reuters.
However, Shell continues to see value in developing its gas business in Iraq and is not interested in selling those interests, the sources said.
Shell holds a 45% interest in the Majnoon oilfield that it operates under a technical service contract that expires in 2030, according to its 2015 annual report. Malaysia's national oil company Petronas holds a 30% stake in the field while the Iraqi government holds the remaining 25%.
Production from Majnoon averaged 206,000 bpd in 2015.
Shell also has a 20% interest in the West Qurna 1 field, which is operated by ExxonMobil.
Iraq accounted for around 4.4% of Shell's total oil and gas production in 2015, according to its 2015 annual report.
The move to sell the oil interests highlights the difficulties Iraq faces in its efforts to increase crude output as foreign oil companies such as Shell have found the terms of the production service contracts unappealing.
Shell is the operator of the giant Majnoon field, which started production in 2014. The field is located near Basra in southern Iraq.
Iraq signed contracts with a large number of oil majors around six years ago as it emerged from years of sanctions and internal conflict.
Baghdad initially wanted to rival Saudi Arabia by reaching production of over 10 million barrels per day, but red tape, corruption and poor infrastructure was blamed for delaying projects, which resulted in oil output projections being halved.
National output has nevertheless recently risen sharply to around 4.7 million bpd as some projects started paying off. Iraq has been pushing the foreign companies including BP, Lukoil, ExxonMobil, Shell and China National Petroleum Corporation to increase their investments to give it further production gains.