Jan 18, 2018

BP strikes deal with Iraq to exploit giant Kirkuk field

BP has signed an initial agreement with the Iraqi government to ramp up production from the giant Kirkuk oilfield in Iraqi Kurdistan, which was reclaimed by Baghdad late last year. The memorandum of understanding, signed in Kirkuk on Thursday by BP's head of Middle East operations Michael Townsend, further cements Baghdad's control over the disputed region, retaken by the Iraqi military in the wake of the failed bid by the Kurdistan Regional Government to secure independence. Kirkuk, the biggest oilfield in the world when it was discovered by BP's forebears and others in the 1920s, has been a flashpoint between Baghdad and the autonomous Kurdish north for decades. BP and Baghdad signed a previous deal covering Kirkuk in 2013, but the work never started and was opposed by the KRG. The following year the KRG took control of Kirkuk after it was abandoned by Baghdad following the capture by Isis of the nearby city of Mosul. The KRG continues to control the northernmost section of the Kirkuk field.

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