(Adds detail and comment from third paragraph; updates shares.)
CALGARY, Alberta Aug 12 Talisman Energy Inc
, Canada's No. 5 independent oil and gas producer, said
on Tuesday it still plans to sell all or a portion of its
exploration properties in Iraq's Kurdistan region despite
conflict in the area.
The company said it expects to begin a sale process in the
next several weeks.
Brent Anderson, a spokesman for Calgary-based Talisman, said
an adviser has been selected to handle the marketing of the
properties, though he declined to say who had been chosen to
oversee the process. The company could sell all or part of its
oilfields in the region depending on the amount of interest in
"We had anticipated going to the marketplace in the third
quarter and this process has just started," Anderson said. "We
have an adviser selected and we plan to go into the market with
that adviser over the next couple of months."
The company is starting its sales process even as tens of
thousands of people have been driven from their homes in the
region and the United States carries out air strikes against the
Sunni militants of the Islamic State, who have captured a third
of the country.
Talisman has an interest in two oil blocks in Iraq's
Kurdistan region: The Kurdamir block, which it shares with
WesternZagros Resources Ltd, and its wholly controlled
Topkhana property, where it has just completed the drilling of a
promising well. It is now assessing the results of that drilling
and has yet to release its findings.
Anderson said the company's properties have not been
affected by the conflict in the region; nonetheless Talisman
last week removed most of its personnel from the area.
Major companies such as Chevron Corp and Exxon Mobil
Corp have evacuated staff from Kurdistan, while smaller
Canadian operators have also suspended operations.
Oryx Petroleum Corporation Ltd suspended drilling
operations and evacuated staff from oilfields in Iraq's Kurdish
region last week.
On Monday ShaMaran Petroleum Corp, an Iraqi
Kurdistan-focused oil development and exploration company with
an interest in the Atrush block, said it had suspended
operations at Atrush and significantly reduced staffing levels.
Talisman, which recently seen as a target of a potential
takeover by Spain's Repsol SA, has long said it would
like to sell all or part of its Kurdistan operations. However,
the timing of the sale, coming during the fighting in the
region, may deter some potential buyers.
"It's probably not as nice of a market as they would have
had six months ago," said Michael Dunn, an analyst with
FirstEnergy Capital. "But from Talisman's perspective their plan
always seemed to be to drill that Topkhana well first and see
what they have there."
Talisman shares were up 9 Canadian cents to C$11.56 by early
afternoon on the Toronto Stock Exchange.
(Reporting by Scott Haggett and Nia Williams)