UPDATE 1-TAQA in talks over Iraqi Kurdistan oil stake - sources

Mon Nov 12, 2012 5:08am EST

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ARBIL, Iraq Nov 12 (Reuters) - Abu Dhabi National Energy Co (TAQA) is in advanced talks to buy a stake in an oil block in Iraqi Kurdistan via joint-venture firm General Exploration Partners, industry sources said.

GEP is a joint venture between privately-held Aspect Energy, which owns a 66.5 percent interest in the company, with the remainder held by a subsidiary of Canadadian group ShaMaran Petroleum..

Industry sources said TAQA was close to purchasing Aspect's share of GEP, but it was not clear whether ShaMaran would sell its interest in the company.

"I do not know that the deal is done yet, but it is all but done," one industry source said on Monday.

An autonomous region since 1991, Iraqi Kurdistan is often touted as one of the final frontiers for on-shore oil exploration and has signed deals with foreign majors such Exxon Mobil, Chevron and Total.

But those deals have angered the federal capital Baghdad, which rejects oil contracts offered by the Kurdistan region's government as illegal, and has blacklisted some firms that ventured north.

An Abu Dhabi source said the deal between TAQA and GEP was "imminent", but gave no further details.

GEP, which has an 80 percent stake in the Atrush block, said in September it had found a combined flow rate of 42,200 barrels of oil per day. The other 20 percent of the block is held by Marathon Oil Corp.

Asked to comment on whether TAQA was eyeing GEP, a spokesman for TAQA said: "TAQA has already shown interest in the oil and gas and power sectors in the Kurdish region of Iraq".

Earlier this year, TAQA bought a 50 percent stake in Kurdish power plant Chamchamal, having previously invested $46.6 mln in WesternZagros Resources to acquire 19.9 percent of the company, which has contracts for two blocks in the Iraqi Kurdish region.

GEP was not available to comment.

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