Iraq has expelled Turkish energy firm TPAO from an exploration deal in the south of the country, an oil ministry official said on Wednesday, the latest sign of worsening ties between Baghdad and Ankara.
“The cabinet decided to exclude the company TPAO from Block 9,” said Abdul Mehdi al-Amidi, head of the ministry’s contracting and licensing department, referring to an exploration block awarded in May to a consortium made up of Kuwait Energy, TPAO and Dragon Oil of the United Arab Emirates.
He said that the exploration contract included provisions allowing companies’ shares to be sold on to others, and raised the possibility that ”Kuwait Energy will get the Turkish share, and the new consortium could be 70 percent from Kuwait, and 30 percent from Dragon Oil.”
Block 9 is a 900-square-kilometre (347 square mile) area near Iraq’s border with Iran, and is thought to contain oil.
The three-member consortium won the exploration contract for the block in a May 30-31 public auction in which they agreed to be paid a service fee of $6.24 per barrel of oil equivalent eventually extracted.
Amidi did not comment on why TPAO was expelled, but the decision comes amid icy ties between Iraq and Turkey.
Turkey has refused to extradite Iraqi Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi who has been sentenced to four death sentences in absentia and the two countries at odds over the Syrian conflict.
Baghdad also protested against an August visit to Kirkuk in northern Iraq by Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu without the central government being informed in advance.