Iraq to End Turkey TPAO Deal in Block 9

Source: Reuters 11/7/2012, Location: Middle East

Iraq's cabinet also decided to expel Turkey's TPAO from Block 9, where it holds a 30 percent stake, and asked Kuwait Energy to boost its stake to 70 percent from 40 percent. Dragon Oil holds the remaining 30 percent.

"We respect their decision. If they see such a contract renewal or stake transfer appropriate, we don't mind either," Turkish Energy Minister Taner Yildiz told reporters, in response to Iraq's plan.

Iraqi officials said the decision was not related to possible TPAO deals with Kurdistan.

"The cabinet rejected the approval of Turkey's TPAO as a partner," al-Ameedi said. "Removing TPAO has no connection with Kurdistan deals. We know TPAO has no deals in Kurdistan. But this decision was taken for other reasons."

He refused to give any further details.

Iraqi oil officials said removing TPAO from the exploration project will not affect the company's other activities in oil and gas fields across the country.

TPAO has minority stakes in the two small oilfields of Badra and Maysan in the south and is running two gas fields along with Kuwait Energy in the province of Diyala and the southern oil hub of Basra, both near Iraq's borders with Iran.

"TPAO can still operate in other oil and gas projects in Iraq without being affected by removal from the exploration deal," Ameedi told Reuters.

The expulsion comes amid tensions between Baghdad and Ankara after Turkey accused Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki of sidelining Sunni Muslims since the onset of a political crisis in Iraq after U.S. troops left in December.

Maliki, a Shi'ite close to Iran, has traded insults with Turkey's Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan several times, with the Iraqi leader calling Turkey a hostile state and Erdogan accusing Maliki of fanning sectarian tensions.


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