Total has acquired an 80% stake in the Baranan production sharing contract in Iraqi Kurdistan, potentially raising further ire from Baghdad over its operations there.
The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) will own the remaining 20% of the Baranan block, which is the fourth asset in Total's Kurdistan portfolio.
The block, also known as K9, was held by Talisman Energy until it decided to relinquish the acreage last year.
'This participation in an operated exploration block was contemplated at the time Total made its move in Kurdistan during the summer 2012,' Total told Reuters.
Last summer, the Paris-based explorer bought a 35% stake in the Harir and Safen exploration blocks in Kurdistan, where contract terms are seen as more attractive than the south of the country.
The company also holds a minority interest in the Taza exploration block in the Kurdish province of Suleimaniya in northern Iraq.
In recent years, the KRG has awarded contracts on its own terms to foreign oil companies, including Exxon and Chevron, antagonising the Iraqi central government, which rejects the deals as illegal.
Baghdad warned Total, which has a stake in the Halfaya oilfield in southern Iraq, that it would be forced to sell it if it did not cancel or freeze its deals with Kurdistan, but the company has continued to operate in both places.
Chevron also confirmed to the wire service meanwhile that it had acquired a stake in the Qara Dagh block, as revealed in January by the region's energy minister Ashti Hawrami.
Kurdistan says its right to control exploration of the reserves under its soil is enshrined in Iraq's constitution.
Source: Upstream Online