Maersk Oil said it received approval from the semiautonomous Kurdistan Regional Government to take on a 40 percent interest in the Piramagrun and Qala Dze production sharing contracts from a subsidiary of Spanish energy company Repsol.
"Being present and active in one of the world's most promising and prolific exploration basins is a fundamental part of Maersk Oil's strategy," Maersk Oil Chief Executive Officer Jakob Thomasen said in a statement Tuesday.
Maersk Oil has been working in the Kurdish region of Iraq since 2011. The company points to data from the U.S. Geological Survey saying the region may hold as much as 45 billion barrels of oil reserves.
The Danish company said drilling in the Qala Dze production area should begin this year. Seismic surveys used to get a better understanding of the reserve potential began in 2012 and Repsol, which stays on as the operator, started exploratory drilling in the region November.
KRG oil ambitions have frustrated the central government in Iraq, which views any unilateral deals it makes as violations of national law.
No financial terms were disclosed.