Iraq considering buying Exxon stake in West Qurna 1 oilfield - oil minister

By and

BAGHDAD, May 3 (Reuters) - Iraq is considering buying ExxonMobil's (XOM.N) stake in the southern West Qurna 1 oilfield through state-owned Basra Oil Co (BOC), the country's oil minister said on Monday.

The oil ministry is discussing BOC "taking ownership of the Exxon stake in West Qurna 1 and leading the project, as happened with Majnoon," Ihsan Abdul Jabbar told a news conference, referring to the huge Majnoon oilfield in Iraq's south.

Iraq said last month that ExxonMobil was seeking to sell its 32.7% stake in the West Qurna 1 field, and that the oil ministry had started discussions with U.S. oil companies over a possible purchase. read more

ExxonMobil did not respond to a request for comment.

Abdul Jabbar also said at the news conference that the development of Iraq's Mansuriya gas field near the Iranian border is expected to cost $2.1 billion.

China's Sinopec (000554.SZ) last month won a deal to develop the field in partnership with Iraq's state-run Midland Oil Company. read more

He said talks with some foreign companies to develop Iraq's western Akkas gas field near the borders with Syria "are moving very slowly", without elaborating.

Iraqi oil officials close to the talks said France's Total (TOTF.PA) and Chevron Corp (CVX.N) are among the companies interested in developing Akkas.

Abdul Jabbar added that he does not expect oil prices to drop below $65 a barrel and that lower oil prices should not be a concern after OPEC+ eases production cuts from May. read more

As a part of its drive to boost gas production, Iraq plans to invest $3 billion in Basra Gas Co over the next five years to increase its production capacity by 40% to 1.4 billion cubic feet (bcf) a day, said Abdul Jabbar.

Basra Gas Co is a joint venture between state-owned South Gas Company, Shell (RDSa.L) and Mitsubishi (8058.T) .

Reporting by Ahmed Rasheed, writing by Amina Ismail, editing by Louise Heavens

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.