Exxon held a conference call today at 4pm UK time updating the market on Q4 results and giving guidance for the months ahead. At the end of the CC, questions and answers were allowed. The first question to be posed was based on Kurdistan and the rumoured 6 block licence deal – it was met with a firm ‘no comment’.
The very fact that the first question to be asked at the Q&A of the CC was about Kurdistan – says it all. It’s just a shame that Exxon still seem to think it deserves a ‘no comment’ response.
The below article in Reuters shows that even Iraq’s Oil Ministry is now backing down on its earlier threats of cancelling Exxon’s contracts in the south. This is quite a development and one can only imagine that the other bunch of Super Majors based in Southern Iraq, might also be thinking that there’s no reason for them to hold back either. The story of Total making a beeline for Kurdistan appeared in the Sunday Times last weekend – judging by the below statements, is there anything to stop Super Majors taking blocks in Kurdistan? Clearly not.
Exxon’s silence continues, but judging by the speed and way the first question popped up on their conference call – they are under no illusions that the world and of course their shareholders are all very keen to know the truth and facts.
Jan 31 (Reuters) – Baghdad has no legal right to cancel a major oil contract with Exxon Mobil in retaliation for its involvement in semi-autonomous Kurdistan, the head of Iraq’s parliamentary oil and energy committee said on Tuesday.
“There are no blacklists in parliament,” said Adnan al-Janabi on the sidelines of an oil conference in London.
Exxon became the first major to move into the northern Kurdish region in mid-October when it signed a contract for six exploration bLocks with Kurdish authorities. The Kurdistan Regional Government is locked in a feud with the Arab-dominated central government in Baghdad over territory and oil rights.
The Iraqi oil ministry has said Exxon’s deal was illegal and could result in termination of its contract to develop the major West Qurna Phase One oilfield in the south.
“The contracts (signed) by the central government and the Kurdish region are not fully constitutional. We need to pass the oil law to set up the federal council, which can then approve all of the contracts,” Janabi said.
OPEC member Iraq is still struggling to pass a modern oil and gas law to help settle disputes, including those surrounding oil production-sharing contracts signed by the KRG with foreign companies.
Exxon has not commented publicly on the agreement, and Iraqi oil officials say the company has not responded to their requests for an explanation. (Reporting by Simon Falush and Peg Mackey, with additional reporting by Ahmed Rasheed in Baghdad; Editing by Jane Baird and Anthony Barker)