ERBIL, Iraq, March 25 (UPI) -- In a sign of a growing Middle East presence, Russian energy company Gazprom Neft said it was surveying the reserve potential in the Kurdish north of Iraq. The Middle East subsidiary of Gazprom Neft said it was ready to survey the reserve potential in the Halabja block of the Kurdish north of Iraq.
"The Halabja block has until now undergone very little geological study," Chief Executive Officer Mikhail Kholodov said in a statement. "Conducting seismological surveys is the first step towards identifying the optimal location for an exploration well and these provide a significant amount of new information on the structure of the block."
Lukoil, Russia's largest private oil company, signed a contract revision last year to build two 75-mile long pipelines and associated infrastructure for the West Qurna oil field in southern Iraq. The company this week said it was committed to Iraqi oil developments "on a long-term basis."
Iraq's oil sector was caught in the cross hairs of the fight between military forces and fighters loyal to the group calling itself the Islamic State. Violence attributed to the Islamic State forced some energy companies to suspend operations in the Kurdish north last year.
Three of the four projects led by Gazprom Neft in Iraq are in the semiautonomous Kurdish region of Iraq.