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Wednesday, April 23, 2014  

Iraq bars Turkish firm from oil exploration deal
BAGHDAD Iraq expelled Turkish national energy firm TPAO on Wednesday from a consortium that won an exploration contract in south Iraq, in the latest sign of worsening ties between Baghdad and Ankara.

The two neighbours have been at odds over their responses to the Syrian conflict and Iraq has publicly urged Turkey to hand over fugitive vice-president Tareq Al Hashemi, who has been sentenced to death on charges of running a death squad.

The exploration deal was for a tract of land in  Basra province and had been awarded in May to Kuwait Energy, TPAO and Dragon Oil of the UAE.

“For reasons to do with non-technical issues and outside the responsibility of my office and me personally ... the Turkish company TPAO was excluded from the consortium,” said Abdul Mehdi Al Amidi, head of the ministry’s contracting and licencing department.

“This decision is final, there is no approval to sign the contract for Block 9,” he added, referring to the exploration block in south Iraq. “The decision (to expel TPAO) is from the cabinet.”

Amidi said the contract included provisions allowing companies’ shares to be sold on to others and raised the possibility that Kuwait Energy would take over TPAO’s stake, increasing its share to 70 per cent in the consortium, with Dragon Oil retaining the remaining 30 per cent.

Block 9 is a 900sqkm area near Iraq’s border with Iran, and is thought to contain oil.

The three-member consortium originally won the exploration contract for the block in a May 30-31 public auction in which they agreed to be paid a service fee of $6.24 per barrel of oil equivalent eventually extracted. Amidi did not comment on why TPAO was expelled, but the decision comes amid icy ties between Iraq and Turkey.

Agence France-Presse
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