ST. PETERSBURG, Russia, June 21 (UPI) -- Russian energy company Gazprom said it was interested in working further in the oil and natural gas sector in the Kurdish north of Iraq.
Gazprom in a statement said both sides discussed the possibility of closer cooperation in the oil and natural gas sector.
"In particular, the parties discussed the progress with interaction in oil and gas field exploration, development and operation," the company said Thursday.
Gazprom Neft, the oil subsidiary of Gazprom, is in the process of exploration activity in the Garmian and Shakal blocks in the southern regions of the Kurdish territories.
Iraq has the fourth-largest oil reserves in the world. A 2012 assessment from the International Energy Agency said Iraqi oil production could expand exponentially over the coming years. The IEA said Iraq could eventually pass Russia as a major oil exporter.
Disputes over national oil laws, however, have cast a shadow over the Iraqi energy sector. The central government in Baghdad says it may be illegal for the Kurdish government to make its own deals, bypassing Baghdad.