* Baghdad angry over reports Shell in talks -govt sources
* Shell says that in time it wants to work in all of Iraq
BAGHDAD, Sept 26 Iraq said on Wednesday that
Royal Dutch Shell has denied starting talks with Iraqi
Kurdistan to sign energy deals with the semi-autonomous region.
Sources told Reuters last week that Shell was exploring
possibilities in Iraqi Kurdistan, encouraged by the example of
rivals who were risking Baghdad's anger by moving into the
northern region while developing oilfields in the south.
"We don't have any discussions with the Kurdish regional
government about working in the region," Shell's vice-president
Hans Nijkamp told Iraq's Deputy Prime Minister for Energy
Hussain al-Shahristani, according to a statement from
Shell, contacted by Reuters on Wednesday, said it had no
comment on the Iraqi government statement.
"Over time, we want to work in all of Iraq, but for the time
being we've got three mega-projects on the go (in southern
Iraq)," a spokesman said, repeating a statement made last week.
Competitors Exxon Mobil and Total have
gone largely unpunished by Baghdad for their northern forays.
According to Shahristani's statement, Nijkamp described as
"inaccurate" recent reports that Shell was preparing to follow
suit, and said they had originated outside the company.
The reports drew an angry response from the Iraqi
government, which early this week threatened Shell with "serious
consequences" if it signed any deal with the Kurdistan Regional
Government (KRG), two government sources confirmed.
Shell has come close to securing contracts with the region
twice before but pulled back so as not to antagonise the central
government in Baghdad, which regards all deals signed by the KRG
The Anglo-Dutch major is at work in Iraq's supergiant
southern oilfields of Majnoon, where it is the operator, and
West Qurna-1, where it is Exxon's junior partner. The company is
also in a $17 billion gas joint venture with Iraq.
Exxon Mobil became the first oil major to move into
the northern region of Iraq in mid-October when it signed a deal
with the KRG. Norway's Statoil is also looking closely
at KRG exploration deals, industry sources have said.
The Iraqi central government in Baghdad says any oil
operations in Kurdistan should be signed with central government
and it blacklisted Chevron Corp, which followed Exxon
into Kurdistan this month, over such a deal.
Autonomous since 1991, Kurdistan has its own government and
armed forces, but still relies on the central government for its
budget drawn from the OPEC nation's oil revenues.