Iraq denies Arbil-Shell oilfield talks

Iraq denies Arbil-Shell oilfield talks

BAGHDAD - Reuters
Iraq said on Sept. 26 that Royal Dutch Shell has denied starting talks with the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) to sign energy deals with the semi-autonomous region in the north.

Sources told Reuters last week that Shell was exploring possibilities in Iraqi Kurdistan, encouraged by the example of rivals who were risking Baghdad’s anger by moving into the northern region while developing oilfields in the south.

“We don’t have any discussions with the Kurdish regional government about working in the region,” Shell’s vice-president Hans Nijkamp told Iraq’s Deputy Prime Minister for Energy Hussain al-Shahristani, according to a statement from Shahristani’s office.

Shell, contacted by Reuters on Sept. 26, said it had no comment on the Iraqi government statement.

Three mega-projects
“Over time, we want to work in all of Iraq, but for the time being we’ve got three mega-projects on the go (in southern Iraq),” a spokesman said, repeating a statement made last week.

Competitors Exxon Mobil and Total have gone largely unpunished by Baghdad for their northern forays.According to Shahristani’s statement, Nijkamp described as “inaccurate” recent reports that Shell was preparing to follow suit, and said they had originated outside the company.

The reports drew an angry response from the Iraqi government, which early this week threatened Shell with “serious consequences” if it signed any deal with the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), two government sources confirmed.