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LUANDA Feb 25 Angolan state oil firm Sonangol
has decided to exit Iraq due to security problems in a conflict
region where it has operated two fields, a board member said on
Sonangol in 2009 won the right to operate the Qayara and
Najmah oilfields in the Nineveh province in Iraq's northwest,
where Sunni Islamist insurgents remain active.
Violence in Iraq climbed to its highest level in five years
in 2013, with nearly 9,000 people killed, most of them
civilians, according to the United Nations.
"Our presence in Iraq was as an operator in an area with
much conflict. Last year we were unable to develop any work due
to security matters ... and so we took the decision to leave,"
Anabela Fonseca, Sonangol board member in charge of
international investments, told a news conference.
She added that the company had made a declaration of force
majeure last year, which the Iraqi government accepted, as
Sonangol's costs were rising while it could not develop the
Reserves have been estimated at about 800 million barrels
for Qayara and 900 million for Najmah, and Sonangol has a 75
percent stake in both.
Fonseca said an independent technical and financial audit is
being conducted to allow Sonangol to end its operations without
violating any of its contractual obligations to the Iraqi
(Reporting by Shrikesh Laxmidas; editing by Jane Baird)