Exxon seeks to quit flagship Iraq oil project

LONDON - Exxon Mobil wants to leave its giant oilfield project in southern Iraq, diplomatic sources said, in a move likely to aggravate the country’s internal tensions and hamper Baghdad’s energy expansion plans.

The desire of the company to quit was due to prospects of slim profits from the estimated $50 billion West Qurna-1 project, the sources said. An exit from the project would contrast with a deal Exxon signed a year ago to explore in Iraq’s autonomous northern Kurdish region, where incentives are better.

Baghdad deemed the Kurdish deal illegal and promised to punish Exxon by ripping up its contract for West Qurna-1, which has reserves of 8.7 billion barrels.

Executives at the company this week told US State Department officials it was looking to sell its 60 per cent stake in the project, diplomats from two Western countries said.

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