ExxonMobil seeks to exit from $50-bn West Qurna-1 oilfield project in Iraq

US oil giant ExxonMobil is pulling out from the development of the $50 billion West Qurna-1 oilfield project in Iraq, as the US oil giant battles with Baghdad over licenses awarded by the semi-autonomous Kurdistan government.

Senior Iraqi oil ministry official Abdul-Mahdi al-Ameedi yesterday told reporters at an event that ExxonMobil has expressed an interest in pulling out of West Qurna-1 oilfield project in southern Iraq and may sell its entire or part stake to other companies.

The Irving, Texas-based company has not yet commented publicly on the issue, but it had angered the Iraqi government after it signed a lucrative oil deal with the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) last year.

The central government in Baghdad has been locked in a protracted stand-off with the KRG for several years over the control of oil production and exports from the region.

The government in Baghdad wants all oil contracts routed through the central government oil ministry terming as invalid all deals signed by KRG, while KRG insists that all deals comply with the country's new constitution.

In July, Iraq had blacklisted Chevron Corp for acquiring two oil drilling blocks in the northern semi-autonomous Kurdistan region from India's Reliance Industries (RIL).