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Baghdad Asks British Energy Giant BP To Study Developing Kirkuk Oil Fields

An oil field in Dibis on the outskirts of Kirkuk (file photo)
An oil field in Dibis on the outskirts of Kirkuk (file photo)

Iraq’s oil minister says Baghdad has asked British energy giant BP to draft a study on boosting production in the Kirkuk oil fields in Iraq's Kurdistan region that were reclaimed by Baghdad late last year.

Oil Minister Jabbar al-Luaybi told the AFP news agency on February 11 that he hoped to discuss the proposal with BP's head, who is due to visit Kirkuk in the coming days.

"I suggested they study my proposal and I am waiting for their reply," Luaybi told AFP.

Kirkuk's oil fields – discovered in the 1920s – have been a flashpoint between Baghdad and Iraq's Kurdish region for decades.

BP and Baghdad signed a previous deal on Kirkuk’s Baba Gurgur and Havana oil fields in 2014, but the work never started.

Baghdad lost the Kirkuk fields to Kurdish forces that year during a sweeping offensive by the Islamic State extremist group.

In January, the Oil Ministry signed a new memorandum with BP after the federal government took back the control of five oil fields in the area in October. A sixth oil field remains in Kurdish hands.

Luaybi’s comments come as Baghdad seeks to attract multibillion-dollar investments at an international meeting on rebuilding the war-torn country.

Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi is to lead the Iraqi delegation at the three-day conference, which starts in Kuwait on February 12.

An Iraqi official was quoted by the dpa news agency as saying that Iraq "will present 212 investment projects covering all the Iraqi economic sectors, including projects in the autonomous Kurdistan region.”

The official said Iraq seeks to lure investments worth $100 billion at the conference, which will be attended by the World Bank and hundreds of international companies and organizations.

Based on reporting by AFP and dpa

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