22 January 2012, Sweetcrude, Baghdad – ExxonMobil chief executive officer, Rex Tillerson, has met with Iraqi prime minister, Nuri al-Maliki, asking the premier if it can keep running a huge southern oilfield.
This is despite disagreements over rival contracts signed with the country’s autonomous Kurdistan region.
The meeting in Baghdad come as the US supermajor offers to sell its stake in the West Qurna-1 oilfield in the south after clashing with the Iraqis over its deals with the self-ruled Kurdish enclave in the north.
Iraq has been clear that it considers illegal deals oil companies sign with the Kurdish enclave. But Monday’s meeting may suggest ExxonMobil is testing its room to balance investments with the Opec member’s central government and those with the self-governed Kurdistan region, Reuters reported.
“ExxonMobil asked to meet with the prime minister to know his opinion on the company’s contracts in the south and in the northern region and if there was a possibility to keep working on both contracts,” Maliki’s media adviser Ali al-Moussawi said after the meeting, according to the news wire.
“The prime minister’s answer was clear to the head of Exxon that they can’t keep operating on both deals at the same time and they should observe Iraq’s laws.”
A statement from the government said only that Tillerson had “expressed his company’s keenness to continue and expand its work in Iraq”.
Tillerson said in a brief statement that his company is eager to continue and expand its work in Iraq and “will take important decisions in this regard”, the Associated Press reported.