Printed on: November 11, 2012

Exxon seeks exit deal in Iraq this year

BAGHDAD (AP) -- Exxon Mobil expects to reach a deal by year's end to sell its stake in a major oil field in southern Iraq, an Iraqi official said Friday.

Faisal Abdullah, spokesman for Iraq's deputy prime minister for energy affairs, said the oil giant has reached out to several companies -- including Royal Dutch Shell, Lukoil, BP, CNPC and Eni -- about its stake in the 8.6 billion barrel West Qurna Phase 1 project.

Exxon declined to comment, maintaining a position it has held for weeks.

Irving, Texas-based Exxon Mobil is the main developer of West Qurna-1. It was awarded rights to work on the field in 2009 along with minority partner Royal Dutch Shell PLC.

The other companies had no public comment or could not be reached. Russia's Interfax news agency quoted a Lukoil official as saying the company has received an offer from Exxon and is still considering it.

"We've received Exxon's offer," Lukoil's head of foreign operations Andrey Kuzyayev told Interfax. "But we did not come up with a decision today."

Lukoil, Russia's No. 2 oil producer, is already developing the 12.9 billion-barrel West Qurna-2 field. Lukoil had been granted the development rights in 1997.