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ARBIL, Iraq, Nov 13 (Reuters) - Iraq's Kurdish region has signed an exploration deal with Exxon Mobil, a Kurdish official said on Sunday, confirming a deal that Iraq has said could jeopardise the U.S. oil giant's southern oilfield contract.
Iraqi Kurdistan has enjoyed more stability and security in recent years than the rest of Iraq, which is struggling with stubborn violence from insurgents and militias more than eight years after the U.S. invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein.
In June, Deputy Prime Minister Hussain al-Shahristani said West Qurna Phase One production had hit 350,000 barrels per day and was expected to reach 400,000 bpd by year-end.
Royal Dutch Shell has pulled out of oil-development talks with the Kurdistan regional government in an effort to protect lucrative investments in southern Iraq, including a potential $17bn natural gas deal.
Over recent days Iraqi government officials have threatened to cancel an existing oilfield contract with ExxonMobil, after the Financial Times reported that the US company had become the first “supermajor” to conclude exploration contracts with the KRG. Major oil companies are racing to secure supplies in Iraq, which has some of the largest oil and gas reserves in the world.