Total sees 'new opportunities' in Iraq

Aug. 1, 2012 at 8:02 AM

HOUSTON, Aug. 1 (UPI) -- Marathon Oil Corp. and French supermajor Total announced they will work together to develop oil fields in the semiautonomous Kurdish region of Iraq.

Marathon said Total acquired a 35 percent working interest in the Harir and Safen blocks northeast of the Kurdish capital Erbil. Marathon will remain operator at the Harir block while Total will become operator of developments at Safen.

The Kurdistan Regional Government retains a 20 percent interest in each of the blocks.

A report published this week by the International Crisis Group states that oil disputes between the Kurdish and central government in Baghdad is complicating an already fractured political system in Iraq. The report cites a speech from Kurdish President Masoud Barzani in which he states most power-sharing and partnerships agreements in the country are "meaningless."

Baghdad in April declared a Kurdish deal with U.S. supermajor Exxon frozen because of the legal issue.

Total, in its statement on the deal with Marathon, said the acquisition "confirms its commitment to contribute to the development of the oil Industry in Iraq and is looking for new opportunities."

The Harir block covers around 174,000 gross acres while the Safen block covers about 105,000 gross acres in the Kurdish north.

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