HOUSTON (Bloomberg) –Exxon Mobil Corp.’s multiyear effort to extricate itself from a groundbreaking Iraqi oil deal may hinge on the involvement of one of the world’s biggest frackers.
In an unusual move for one of the hired hands of the oil industry, Halliburton Co. has expressed interest in acquiring Exxon’s stake in the West Qurna-1 field located in southern Iraq, Basra Oil Co. said in a statement. Emily Mir, a spokeswoman for Houston-based Halliburton, was not immediately able to comment on Monday.
Exxon was among the first Western oil explorers allowed into Iraq in 2010 as the Middle Eastern nation sought to rebuild its oil industry following the fall of Saddam Hussein and years of subsequent fighting. Prior to then, Iraq’s crude bounty had been off limits to most foreigners for almost 40 years. Exxon soured on West Qurna amid tough contractual terms, OPEC supply constraints and ongoing political instability.
While Halliburton has long been one of Exxon’s primary contractors at the field, taking an actual ownership stake would be a rarity for a company focused on mapping, fracking and rehabilitating assets owned by other companies. West Qurna-1 is a mammoth 20 billion-barrel deposit. Investors seemed unconcerned: Halliburton shares were up more than 2% on Monday.